Mike Napoli receives warm welcome back to Rangers Ballpark

Posted Friday, May. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Napoli entered the three-game series as a different hitter than he was last season. He was the major-league leader in RBIs (31), extra-base hits (22) and doubles (15), and hit home runs of 472 feet and 469 feet Tuesday night at Toronto.

Napoli had only 56 RBIs in 2012, his second season with the Rangers.

“Last year I never really felt like I do right now,” said Napoli, who was hitting .283. “I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible. I’ve got keys I work on in the cage. Just go out there and try to keep it the same.”

He has maintained his health after a degenerative condition in his hips was discovered during the physical exam that would have made his lucrative deal with Boston official. He is taking medicine to help, but he also is no longer catching.

Life at first base and designated hitter does a body good, and hitting at Fenway Park doesn’t hurt either.

“It’s a great hitter’s park regardless of if you’re left-handed or right-handed,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who caught up with Napoli during batting practice. “I think there are a lot of things working in his favor. But he’s also a good offensive player.”

Neither Kinsler nor any of his teammates are surprised to see Napoli find his stride again. He hit .320 with 30 homers in 2011 before regressing in 2012.

They’re just hoping that Napoli won’t hurt them too much this weekend.

“He meant a lot to this franchise in the two years he was here,” outfielder David Murphy said. “We enjoyed being around him. Like any teammate that leaves, you wish him the best except when he plays against you.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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