SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers catcher Mike Napoli figures his left ankle is at "about 80 percent" as he begins spring training in earnest.
"But I was able to work out and do some lateral movement on it without tape yesterday," Napoli said. "It will be ready to go by Opening Day for sure. It will be at 100 percent by then. I just have to keep working on it and get used to baseball stuff."
Napoli injured the ankle in Game 6 of the World Series and still played in Game 7. He doesn't have any structural damage, but he said the sprain stretched some ligaments and caused a bone bruise.
"That takes some time to fully heal," Napoli said.
He's been receiving treatment five or six days a week and sometimes tapes the ankle up during workouts to help stabilize it. But it won't keep him from catching bullpens and preparing for the season.
"It feels better all the time," Napoli said. "I'm not worried about it. I've sprained my ankles before. It just takes time."
Napoli arrived last year at this time fresh off a trade from the Blue Jays and uncertain about his role. But by the time spring ended, he was the backup catcher. And when he caught fire in July, he stayed on a hot streak through the postseason. He hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBIs in 113 games. He was on the disabled list for three weeks in June with a strained oblique muscle, but when he returned, he was a force. He batted .383 in the second half of the season and had the Rangers won the World Series, Napoli would have likely been the MVP.
His 3.16 catcher's ERA was the lowest of any AL catcher with at least 50 games played. Napoli said he's looking forward to preparing for the season, learning some of the new pitching faces -- like Yu Darvish, and helping get the club back to the World Series again.