There’s more to Mike Napoli than two balky hips. Take, for instance, his sense of humor. In two seasons with the Texas Rangers, Napoli was known for ordering T-shirts with amusing slogans, once even outfitting long-tenured infielder Michael Young with a cape that read “Rangerman.” And after losing a bet — the new Red Sox first baseman picked his beloved Miami Heat to beat the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals — he switched his at-bat music to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” and Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like A Woman.” “What I can I say? I lost a bet,” Napoli said with a laugh yesterday. “It was fun. The fans got a kick out of it. I like to have fun. It’s just my personality. I like to joke around and be with the guys.” Then, there’s Napoli’s power. At 6-foot and 215 pounds, Napoli has a compact build. But with a barrel-chested upper body and thick forearms, he hits with the brute force of a slugger twice his size. In seven major league seasons, he has homered once every 15.54 at-bats, seventh-best among active players with at least 2,200 career at-bats, including free agents Jim Thome and Russell Branyan. Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, Napoli’s teammate with the Los Angeles Angels, still gets slack-jawed about one titanic opposite-field shot over the right-center field bullpen at Fenway Park against Justin Masterson on April 24, 2008. “I still remember that one,” Lackey said. “One of the most impressive homers I’ve ever seen at Fenway. You see a lot of guys that hit more homers, just flat-out power. But straight-up, just pop, he’s probably the best I’ve played with, honestly.” Add it all up and it’s little wonder the Red Sox made Napoli their top free agent priority this winter, pursuing him aggressively to be their first baseman even after a December diagnosis of a degenerative condition in both of his hips wiped out their three-year, $39 million agreement.
Mike Napoli powerfully good
Boston Herald | Feb 21