The Angels have a dynamic two-way catcher with effortless power, a discerning eye and Gold Glove-caliber defensive skills. The only problem is that guy is living in two separate bodies.
Because his skills are more measurable, Mike Napoli tends to be the favorite of Angels fans. He hit 20 home runs and batted better than .270 for the second season in a row.
Still, he only catches half the games and Napoli is painfully aware of the reason for that. Angels pitchers had a 3.99 ERA when Jeff Mathiswas catching last season, compared to a 4.86 ERA with Napoli behind the plate. Mathis threw out nearly 25 percent of would-be base stealers. Napoli nabbed less than 15 percent.
Napoli is intent on improving his skills behind the plate this spring. A year ago, he entered camp recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. He said at times the pain recurred during the season. His arm feels good now and he thinks he can make himself a better overall player heading into 2010.
"I believe I can be a good catcher. I'm not going to say I'll be the best, because there are some good catchers in our league," Napoli said. "But that's what spring training is for. I'm working early and concentrating, taking it seriously."