Nationals

Red Sox officially sign Mike Napoli for 1 year

Red Sox officially sign Mike Napoli for 1 year

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Red Sox are confident that Mike Napoli can be their regular first baseman despite a hip condition that led to him signing a one-year contract instead of the original three-year agreement that had been reached.

``This has been caught very early,'' Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday. ``There's, from all the information we have, a very good prognosis and no reason to think that Mike won't be a huge part of our 2013 team.''

The contract Napoli signed on Tuesday is for $5 million with possible bonuses that could take its value to $13 million.

His condition is known as avascular necrosis, which can cause bone tissue to die because of poor bloody supply. His agent, Brian Grieper, said Napoli has it in both hips.

But Napoli, a catcher most of his career, said he's had no symptoms and didn't know he had the condition until it showed up during a physical required by the Red Sox after reaching the earlier $39 million deal.

``It was definitely a shock,'' Napoli, who is taking medication for the condition, said during a conference call.

``I never had trouble with it,'' he said. ``I played with it last year. I feel fine. I'm doing everything in the gym right now.''

Former baseball and NFL star Bo Jackson also had AVN, and his career was cut short, but Cherington said Napoli's case is ``very different.''

Napoli, 31, spent the past two seasons with the Texas Rangers after playing his first five for the Los Angeles Angels. He batted .227 last year with 24 homers and 56 RBIs and was chosen for his first All-Star game.

Other teams expressed interest in him after the hip problem surfaced, but the Red Sox were ``the best fit for me,'' he said.

The Red Sox hope he can provide right-handed power in the middle of the lineup. In 19 games at Fenway Park, he hit .306 with seven homers and 17 RBIs.

Playing first base, where Boston has no returning veteran, will take less of a toll on his lower body, Cherington said.

``We know he can catch. He's done that a lot in the past,'' Cherington said, but ``it makes sense in the short term to allow Mike to focus'' on first base. ``We have no reason to believe that he won't be ready on opening day.''

Napoli has played 539 games as a catcher and 133 as a first baseman.

``I definitely feel comfortable'' at first base, he said. ``I feel like the more reps I get over there, the better I can be. It's definitely going to be a lot easier on my body. ... I'm confident I can stay healthy all year.''

He played in 108 games last season but his production dropped sharply from 2011 when he posted career highs of a .320 batting average, 30 homers and 75 RBIs. For his seven seasons, he's hitting .259 with 146 homers and 380 RBIs.

The Red Sox made room for Napoli on their 40-man roster by designating right-hander Chris Carpenter for assignment. In his only season with Boston, Carpenter was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in eight relief appearances. He began the season on the disabled list following surgery on his right elbow in March.

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

ST. LOUIS -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez was awake most of the night after Washington lost on a walk-off grand slam Sunday.

He likely won't be catching up on that missed sleep Monday.

Paul DeJong handed the Nationals their second straight walk-off loss, capping a back-and-forth finish with a game-ending solo homer in the ninth inning of the St. Cardinals' 7-6 victory Monday night.

DeJong took Koda Glover (0-1) deep leading off the ninth on a 3-1 pitch. A night earlier, Ryan Madson allowed a game-ending ninth-inning grand slam to the Chicago Cubs' David Bote in a 4-3 defeat.

"I don't sleep most nights, I like to watch replays of the game," Martinez said. "And last night was no different."

Washington's bullpen has blown saves in three of its past four games. All-Star closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list since early July, and top setup man Kelvin Herrera went to the DL with right rotator cuff impingement last week.

"I don't know what else to do," Martinez said of the bullpen.

The usually stoic DeJong wasn't quite sure how to celebrate his first career walk-off homer. He started calm, keeping his head down as he rounded the bases. After coming around third, though, he whipped his helmet into the grass, threw his arms down and bellowed out a roar.

"My first walkoff, it felt so good I had to do something a little different," DeJong said.

The Cardinals recorded their 10th walkoff of the season and DeJong became the sixth different player to end a game in grand fashion.

"They're all special, all emotional," St. Louis interim manager Mike Shildt said. "These guys have the mentality, `Do your job, keep the line moving.' They have a lot of trust with each other."

The Cardinals have won six in a row and moved to nine games over .500 for the first time this season.

DeJong's 380-foot drive ended a wild final two innings.

Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko homered in the eighth inning to put St. Louis up 6-4. Gyorko started the rally with a leadoff drive, and Carpenter followed with a three-run homer off Sammy Solis.

The Nationals tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and Matt Wieters off closer Bud Norris. Dakota Hudson (3-0) relieved Norris and stranded two baserunners by retiring Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton.

Juan Soto and Bryce Harper homered for the Nationals, who have lost five of seven.

Gyorko sparked St. Louis' big eighth inning with his homer off Justin Miller. Kolten Wong and Patrick Wisdom then singled to set up Carpenter's 33rd homer. Carpenter has homered in seven of his past 10 games. He extended his major-league leading on-base streak to 31 games with a first-inning bunt single. He has 17 homers during that string.

Harper won a 10-pitch battle with starter Miles Mikolas by drilling his 29th homer leading off the fourth to lead 2-1.

Ryan Zimmerman added a run-scoring double in the second for the Nationals.

Jose Martinez had four hits for the Cardinals.

Mikolas gave up four runs on four hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Tommy Milone started for Washington and gave up two runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden would like clarification on the new helmet rule

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden would like clarification on the new helmet rule

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 14, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Jets in their second preseason game. 

Talking points

The NFL officiating crew of Carl Cheffers visited the Redskins facility over the past couple of days to give their annual rules update seminar to the players, coaches, and media. The big topic was, of course, the new rule that prohibits players from leading with their helmets when contacting another player. 

Here is the exact wording of the rule, per the video that was shown to the players, coaches, and media. 

The officiating standards for the Use of Helmet rule are:

  • Lowering the head (not to include bracing for contact)
  • Initiating contact with the helmet to any part of an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area — lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul.
  • Making contact on an opponent (both offense and defense)

Prohibiting players from leading with their helmets in the interest of safety is an admirable goal. Jay Gruden said that he was in favor of it in theory, but he saw issues in the implementation.

"We are in constant dialogue, we have the video, we’ve seen multiple videos and we understand what they’re trying to do, and we respect that,” said Gruden. “We will try to play to the rules, but there still are some gray areas there that I’m concerned about as a coach that can cost you football games and can cost players suspensions and all that. So hopefully those gray areas don’t come up and bite you.”

Gruden was asked to drill down on the “gray areas”. 

"I just think they are the 'bang-bang' type plays,” he said. “You know, the receiver goes up for a pass and the defensive back has a low target and then at the last second the receiver ducks his head; I mean is it targeting or not?”

Gruden said that he hoped that the officials would keep their flags in their pockets if there was any doubt. I asked Cheffers what they would do if it wasn’t clear if a violation had been committed. His response did not answer my question, but it did shed some light on the process that is going on during the preseason.  

“Certainly in preseason we do things differently than we do in the regular season,” he said. “I think what’s going to happen is that we’re going to build a library of plays—stuff that we call, stuff that we don’t call—we’re going to build a library to make a decision when the regular season comes to exactly what they want us to call and exactly what they want us to stay away from. At that point, we’re doing exactly as they direct.”

So, in other words, the enforcement of the rule is a work in progress. I suppose that’s the only way to do it since the rule is fewer than 50 words and the owners voted on it without any real input from the competition committee or anyone else. Some trial and error is called for. 

The problem is, the trial and error won’t end when the season starts. And, last time I checked, a loss due to a mistaken application of the rule would be just as costly in September as it would be in December.

Bureau of statistics

The Redskins were penalized for 733 yards last year; only one team, the Panthers, was penalized fewer yards. 

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The agenda

Today: Jay Gruden news conference 9:30; Practice with Jets 9:45; players available to the media after practice.

Upcoming: Preseason Jets @ Redskins (Aug. 16) 2 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 18 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 26 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler