A position change was supposed to prevent this sort of thing.
Mike Napoli, who left behind a career of catching to become a full-time first baseman upon joining the Boston Red Sox before the 2013 season, is a hurting human. The 32-year-old has played 109 games this season, but nagging injuries are taking their toll.
“I’m banged up,” Napoli told ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes on Monday in St. Petersburg. “I’ve been banged up all year, but I grind through it.”
Napoli missed 14 games earlier this season with a left fourth finger sprain but otherwise has avoided the disabled list. A baseball season can be extremely hard on a player’s body and Napoli has battled several ailments throughout the year despite suiting up on nearly a daily basis.
“The other day I woke up and I couldn’t roll out of bed,” Napoli told Edes in regards to back spasms that forced him out of the lineup for four games on the Red Sox’s most recent homestand. “Terrible spasms, on both sides. Every once in a while it tightens up. During a game, I had to go up to the clubhouse and do exercises.”
According to Napoli, he also suffered knee and toe injuries this season that required cortisone injections. He still leads the Red Sox with a .371 on-base percentage, though, and it’s possible Napoli, who has smacked 17 home runs, could join David Ortiz in being the only Boston players this season with 20 bombs.
“I like to grind through it,” Napoli said. “I like to be out there as much as I can. That’s how I am. Do whatever I can. Find a way.”
One positive from a health standpoint is that Napoli still hasn’t felt any effects of the degenerative hip condition he was diagnosed with before signing his first contract with the Red Sox. Napoli undergoes an MRI every three months to track the disease, known as avascular necrosis, and everything has been peachy.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s actually gotten better,” Napoli told Edes. “My last MRI about a month ago, it looked like it had gotten a little bit better, which is weird. Not supposed to happen.”
Napoli’s body also wasn’t supposed to go through the wringer in the wake of him jumping out from behind the dish. It’s been a taxing season — mentally and physically — for the Red Sox, to say the least.