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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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Jerry Stackhouse says he regrets time with Wizards, playing with Michael Jordan

Jerry Stackhouse says he regrets time with Wizards, playing with Michael Jordan

From an outside perspective, it seems like Jerry Stackhouse would have cherished his time with the Washington Wizards, as he was given the opportunity to share the floor with Michael Jordan, an admitted idol whom he was at times compared to as a 6-foot-6 star guard from the University of North Carolina.

But Stackhouse, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, views that time with deep regret. He looked back on those days on the latest episode of the 'Woj Pod' hosted by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and explained why he still isn't over the frustration he felt at the time.

"Honestly, I wish I never played in Washington and for a number of reasons," Stackhouse said. "I felt we were on our way in Detroit before I got traded there. It was really challenging to be able to be in a situation with an idol who at this particular point, I felt like I was a better player.

"Things were still being run through Michael Jordan," he continued. "[Head coach] Doug Collins, I love Doug, but I think that was an opportunity for him to make up for some ill moments that they may have had back in Chicago. So, pretty much everything that Michael wanted to do [we did]. We got off to a pretty good start and he didn't like the way the offense was running because it was running a little bit more through me. He wanted to get a little more isolations for him on the post, of course, so we had more isolations for him on the post. And it just kind of spiraled in a way that I didn't enjoy that season at all. The kind of picture I had in my mind of Michael Jordan and the reverence I had for him, I lost a little bit of it during the course of that year."

What made matters worse for Stackhouse is that his previous team, the Detroit Pistons, won a title in 2004, just two years after he left in a trade. The Wizards sent promising young guard Richard Hamilton to Detroit for Stackhouse in a six-player deal. Hamilton was the leading scorer on that Finals-winning team while playing the same position Stackhouse did.

"[Jordan] had a young guard there in Rip Hamilton, who I was traded for to Detroit, that he didn't feel like he could get it done with. So he was like, 'Let's go get Stackhouse, I know he's tougher and he can score, let's go bring him in here,'" Stackhouse said.

"Watching a team I helped kind of build a foundation for in Detroit go on to win a championship a couple years later, it left a bad taste in my mouth, so I was pretty happy to get out of Washington and get on to Dallas."

Stackhouse was traded by the Wizards in 2004 to the Mavericks in the deal that brought Antawn Jamison to D.C. Stackhouse would play five years in Dallas, only to see them win a title two years after he left. Two years later, he played for the Miami Heat, who would win a championship the year after he left there.

That's some bad timing on multiple accounts. Stackhouse feels like he missed out on a ring, but you could argue he missed out on several.

You can listen to the full interview with Stackhouse right here.

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Revisiting five trades that shaped the Nationals

Revisiting five trades that shaped the Nationals

Asked a few weeks back if the end of spring training caused the end of trade discussions, Mike Rizzo said that was the case.

The Nationals, like every other team, were trying to figure out what’s next instead of hunting for trade solutions in early spring. Nothing about business was usual.

Though this stall does provide time for reflection. We’ll do some of that today, in the coming days via Nationals Talk Supreme Court on the podcast, and until baseball resumes.

For now, let’s look back on five trades which shaped the Nationals. Most good, one still up for debate and one you might recall with Jonathan Papelbon.

Dec. 19, 2014
In:
Trea Turner and Joe Ross
Out: Steven Souza
Also involved: Wil Myers to San Diego
Overview: It’s hard to now fathom the Nationals without Turner. He’s been in the major leagues for five years -- three of them full seasons outside of injured list time from being hit by pitches. He’s a quality defensive shortstop, multi-faceted top-of-the-order bat, and growing among the faces of the franchise. Turner can’t become a free agent until 2023, right around the time prospect Luis Garcia should be ready to come to the major leagues.

Historically, Turner will be labeled the “player to be named later” in this trade, making him one of the best PTBNLs in baseball history (David Ortiz may be No. 1 there).

Ross’ future will determine what level of swindle this ultimately is. Turner is a 14.1 bWAR player to this point despite losing almost a full season because he was hit by pitches in separate years. Souza has been a 5.9 bWAR player since 2015. Myers has 8.5 bWAR since arriving in San Diego (where he also had injury problems). So, Turner’s performance is on par with what Souza and Myers have combined to do.

Which leaves Ross. The Nationals are wondering if he is heading toward a post-Tommy John breakthrough. The fifth starter spot was going to him or Austin Voth when spring training stopped. Anything he adds makes the trade all the more lucrative.

Dec. 23, 2011
In:
Gio Gonzalez, Robert Gilliam
Out: Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Derek Norris, Tommy Milone
Overview: Gonzalez was a needed arm in the Nationals’ rotation and became one of the young franchises important pieces -- until the end.

He racked up 21.6 bWAR before being traded to Milwaukee after his starts became laborious and ineffective. Gonzalez was one of the more affable players in the Nationals’ clubhouse while in Washington. He’s addicted to Jordan brand anything, once brought a giant boom box to his locker and surprisingly befriended Jonathan Papelbon when the enigmatic closer worked in Washington.

Gonzalez was also one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball while part of the Nationals’ push toward relevancy.

Norris is out of Major League Baseball. Cole is a non-roster invitee with the Blue Jays. Milone is a non-roster invitee with the Orioles and has not pitched well since 2014. Peacock has bounced between the bullpen and starting since the trade, amassing just 4.6 WAR after joining Houston following another trade in 2012.

July 16, 2017
In:
Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler
Out: Blake Treinen, Jesus Luzardo, Sheldon Neuse
Overview: You may have heard: The Nationals had a bad bullpen in 2017. And the next year. And last year.

To fix this, Rizzo brought in three veteran relievers. Doolittle, who is now one of the team’s main voices and its closer, can be a free agent at the end of the year. Madson and Kintzler both pitched well when first arriving.

Treinen dominated for a year in Oakland before falling flat last season. Luzardo’s future will ultimately decide how this trade is viewed. He’s still just 22 years old and appears ready to be a lethal threat in Oakland’s rotation for years to come. He’s precisely the kind of prospect the Nationals’ current farm system lacks. But, as Rizzo would argue, you have to give to get. And the Nationals were desperate at the time to fix the bullpen. Treinen was not pitching well, either.

Rizzo sent a chunk of the future for a patch since Madson and Kintzler were gone the following season. Doolittle may not be far behind them.

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Dec. 8, 2016
In:
Adam Eaton
Out: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, Dane Dunning
Overview: How much does winning the World Series change the perception of this trade?

Hard-liners could argue acquiring Eaton -- even under the assumption Bryce Harper was leaving -- can never be worth trading three starting pitcher prospects. His 2017 knee injury doesn’t help his defense, but there’s also no way for an organization to predict an acute injury like that.

The assessment revolves around Giolito, who became an all-star last season, and Eaton’s 2019 World Series performance. His .993 OPS produced an argument for his series MVP consideration. Giolito was also one of baseball’s worst pitchers in 2018, when he led the American League in earned runs allowed and walks.

So, Giolito still has work to do to prove he’s an elite pitcher. López has fluctuated between solid and putrid. Dunning is coming off Tommy John surgery (but was pitching well prior).

Eaton has never performed as expected outside of the World Series. Is that enough to declare this a Washington win? It may be.

July 28, 2015
In:
Jonathan Papelbon
Out: Nick Pivetta
Overview: We can’t talk about recent trades and not mention this one.

Papelbon’s arrival was a jolt. He instantly became a clubhouse influence -- in both directions. His pitching in 2015 was so-so, but, again, the Nationals needed bullpen help. Which made Papelbon the new closer and lead participant in one of the strangest acts in franchise history.

Papelbon choked Bryce Harper on the dugout steps when the two got into a late-game fight. Manager Matt Williams claimed not to see the fight and sent Papelbon back to the mound to pitch the ninth inning. The fight also coincided with the “Jersey off their backs” giveaway and yoga in the outfield. While reporters typed away their stories covering the in-fighting, a yoga instructor was talking about peace and breathing over the stadium’s PA system with dozens of people stretching across mats in the outfield.

As if that mix wasn’t odd enough, Papelbon returned the next season. He held one press conference in spring training to discuss the situation, saying he would answer anything asked at the time, but wouldn’t talk about it again. He was released Aug. 13, 2016. He hasn’t pitched since.

Pivetta has been a subpar pitcher since arriving in Philadelphia.

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