Rangers' Napoli expects to be at full strength by Opening Day

Posted Monday, Feb. 20, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Key dates

Wednesday: Pitchers and catchers report

Thursday: Pitchers' and catchers' first workout

Saturday: First full team workout

March 4: Cactus League opener vs. Royals, 2:05 p.m. in Surprise

April 6: Opening Day, vs. White Sox, 1:05 p.m.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Catcher Mike Napoli worked out for the first time at the Surprise Recreation Campus on Monday with his left ankle taped but also with the expectation that he will be at full strength by Opening Day.

Napoli sprained the ankle severely during Game 6 of the World Series while rounding second base in the fourth inning. He remained in the game and also caught Game 7.

He doesn't expect to be too limited this spring, but he has shifted his off-season prep work knowing he won't be 100 percent by Thursday, the first workout for pitchers and catchers, to April 6 against Chicago.

Those winter workouts included multiple exercises that tested the ankle. Napoli hasn't caught a live pitch yet, but he did catch balls off a machine while working on glovework and footwork.

"I've been fully working out," Napoli said. "The main thing is I think I'll be ready for the season, for Opening Day. I was pushing it a little bit getting ready for spring training. I probably should have just let it be and fully heal and be ready for Opening Day."

Napoli spent much of September and all of the postseason as the Rangers' starting catcher. But he started only 57 regular-season games behind the plate, and another 45 between first base and designated hitter.

He hasn't put his first baseman's glove into storage just yet, and manager Ron Washington could use first base as a quasi-day off from the rigors of catching.

"I love being behind there and working with the pitchers" Napoli said. "The grind of being behind the plate is tough. First base is, mentally and physically, a day off."

Napoli is also hopeful that he and the Rangers can negotiate a contract extension after avoiding an arbitration hearing Feb. 12 with a one-year, $9.4 million contract.

But the focus is his left ankle.

"I didn't want to go into a hearing room," he said. "Right now, I'm just worried about getting my ankle healthy."

Harrison ready

Left-hander Matt Harrison threw his ninth bullpen session of the off-season Monday as he enters camp with the mindset that he must win a spot in the starting rotation.

He went 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA last season but has heard the continued grumblings that free agent Roy Oswalt remains on the Rangers' radar, even if it's only a faint blip.

The Rangers don't want to move Harrison to the bullpen, and he doesn't want to give them any reason to consider that option this spring. He's not complacent.

"I'm not that type of person, and never have been," Harrison said. "Last year was last year."

Lefty added

The Rangers signed left-handed reliever Neal Cotts to a minor-league contract that does not include an invitation to spring training. Cotts, though, could appear in Cactus League games as an extra player.

Cotts hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009. He had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in July 2009; was signed by Pittsburgh in 2010 but didn't pitch; and was signed and then released by the Yankees last off-season.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

Rangers' spring schedule

Date

Opponent

Site

Time

TV/radio/webcast

M4

KC

Surprise Stadium

1:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

M5

KC

Surprise Stadium

2:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M6

ARI

Scottsdale

2:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M7

SD

Peoria

2:05 p.m.

M8

CWS

Surprise Stadium

2:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M9

LAD

Surprise Stadium

2:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M10

CWS

Glendale

2:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

M11

CLE

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

M12

SEA

Peoria

3:05 p.m.

M13

CLE

Goodyear

3:05 p.m.

M14

COL

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M15

OAK

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M16

LAD

Glendale

3:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M17

ARI (SS)

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

M17

CHC (SS)

Cashman Field, Las Vegas

3:05 p.m.

FSSW

M18

MIL (SS)

Maryvale

3:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

M18

CHC (SS)

Cashman Field, Las Vegas

3:05 p.m.

FSSW

M19

MIL

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M20

CHC

Mesa

3:05 p.m.

M22

CHC (SS)

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M22

CIN (SS)

Goodyear

9:05 p.m.

M23

SF

Scottsdale

9:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

M24

LAA

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

M25

LAA

Tempe

3:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

ESPN/103.3 FM

M26

CIN

Surprise Stadium

8:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

M27

SD

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

texasrangers.com

M28

KC

Surprise Stadium

8:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

M29

SF

Surprise Stadium

8:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

M30

COL

Salt River Fields

9:10 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

M31

CLE

Goodyear

9:05 p.m.

ESPN/103.3 FM

A1

SD

Surprise Stadium

3:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

ESPN/103.3 FM

A2

Round Rock

Dell Diamond

6:05 p.m.

A3

Mexico City Red Devils

Rangers Ballpark

7:05 p.m.

KTXA/Ch. 21

ESPN/103.3 FM

1540 AM (Sp.)

A4

Frisco

Frisco

2:05 p.m.

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