Former Ranger Mike Napoli, a fan favorite in his brief two-year stint with the club, returns to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington tonight with the Boston Red Sox. By the way, Napoli will join Fitzsimmons & Durrett on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM at 11:30 a.m. to talk about his return.
Napoli comes to town looking a lot more like the guy that was so hot in the second half of the 2011 season that Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon dubbed it "The Year of the Napoli" when talking to reporters during the playoffs that season. Napoli, playing first base and DH in Boston and batting fifth behind David Ortiz, leads the league in extra-base hits (22) and RBIs (31). That includes a league-leading 15 doubles.
Napoli battled injuries last season and ended up hitting just .227 with 24 homers and 56 RBIs in 108 games. The Rangers decided not to give Napoli a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer and Napoli agreed to a 3-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox. But his hip condition changed everything after his physical and eventually the Red Sox signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal. It sure looks like a steal for the Red Sox right now.
But Napoli was a big part of the Rangers' World Series team in 2011. Had the Rangers hung on in Game 6, Napoli would have been the easy choice as World Series MVP and if you close your eyes and listen, you can still hear the chants of "NAP-O-LI, NAP-O-LI" after his double in Game 5 gave the Rangers the lead.
So when Napoli is introduced for that first plate appearance, will you start chanting "NAP-O-LI, NAP-O-LI" as he steps in?