The Boston Red Sox on Friday reacted to the loss of yet another key member of their 2013 World Series championship squad.
First baseman Mike Napoli earlier that day ended his two-and-a-half-year tenure with the Red Sox, returning to the Texas Rangers after being traded for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
It was clear from his now-former teammates’ comments that Napoli — despite his downslide in production this season — still played an integral role in the Red Sox’s team dynamic.
“We’re going to miss him a lot,” designated hitter David Ortiz told NESN sideline reporter Guerin Austin after Boston’s 7-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. “Nap is like a brother to me, and we have a lot of history together. We’ve been playing together for so long, and he’s a good clubhouse guy. He’s a guy that, it didn’t matter if he was struggling or not, he always brings the peace in for all of us. That’s just a great guy. A great player, a great human being, and always wishing him the best.”
Right-hander Clay Buchholz, who, like Napoli and Ortiz, was a member of that 2013 team, chalked Napoli’s trade up to the sometimes-unfortunate business of baseball — especially as it applies to a club like the Red Sox, who are expected to be perennial contenders.
“This organization has been built around winning championships,” Buchholz told reporters, as aired on “Red Sox Extra Innings LIVE.” “That’s what they do. They give us the best options to do that at the beginning of the season or going into spring training and the offseason. So, it’s just one of those things.
“(Napoli) was a good guy to have in the clubhouse regardless of what the team was doing. He was someone you could look to to give guidance to — whether it be young kids or if there’s veteran guys here who are scuffling — he’s a guy that guys would talk to. Texas, they know what they’re getting.”
With his trade to the Rangers, Napoli rejoins the playoff race in the American League West — one that, coincidentally, also includes former Red Sox teammate Shane Victorino, who last month was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. Texas currently sits in third in the AL West, 5 1/5 games behind the Houston Astros and three back of the second-place Angels.
“I’m happy for Nap,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “And I obviously want to thank him for what he did for the Red Sox, certainly particularly in 2013. (He was) a huge part of our success that year and made a real impact, and became a real good player on the field for us and obviously a popular player off the field and a big part of that team’s success. We just appreciate what he did for us and wish him well.”
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