Texas Rangers

Mike Napoli available to Rangers despite ‘stress reaction’ in right leg

Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli, right, watches Wednesday’s game from the bench. Adrian Beltre, left, pinch-hit in the sixth.
Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli, right, watches Wednesday’s game from the bench. Adrian Beltre, left, pinch-hit in the sixth. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The Rangers received some clarity on the mystery of Mike Napoli on Wednesday, and a glimmer of hope that their future Hall of Fame third baseman has something left in the tank this season after all.

Texas general manager Jon Daniels and Napoli both said that two MRIs confirmed that the first baseman and designated hitter has a “stress reaction” in his lower right leg. Both were under the impression that the condition is step better than a stress fracture.

Napoli was active and available but did not play in Wednesday’s 8-1 loss to the Mariners, the third of a four-game series with Seattle. The missed game was his third in as many days.

What Napoli – and two other limping Rangers sluggers – will be able to give the club in the last 17 games of a hoped-for playoff push isn’t clear at all. He’ll be gauged day-to-day to see how he feels.

Texas entered play Wednesday three games back of Minnesota for the American League’s second wild-card berth.

Adrian Beltre pinch-hit in the sixth for Willie Calhoun with runners first and second, and lefty James Pazos on for Seattle in relief. Beltre popped out to center and jogged to first, but his first action since injuring his hamstring against the Astros on Aug. 31 was intriguing.

Carlos Gomez, meanwhile, has taken off the walking boot used to help support a sprained ankle. He hit in the indoor cages on Wednesday.

Napoli and Beltre both took batting practice outside.

Napoli said from the clubhouse that he has told team management he can play. His only limitation is dealing with the pain.

“I’ve always played with stuff going on my whole career,” said Napoli, who added that he first began feeling a problem with the lower leg in Atlanta last week. “I told [manager Jeff Banister] I can play. I’m not the person who is just going to say, ‘I’m done.’ 

The injury was the result of overuse, not acute trauma, Daniels said.

Napoli has been out of the lineup since Sunday with what had been described as merely the September bang-ups. He said on Tuesday that he was ready to play, but was held out another game.

Team officials remained elusive about his status, waiting, as it turned out, for the results and confirmation of the second MRI.

“What I do know about Nap is that he’s a grinder,” Banister said. “He knows what it’s like to play long seasons and into the playoffs. He knows what it takes through the month of September and what you have to put yourself through.

“I feel confident that he’ll be ready in any capacity we ask him to be in.”

Daniels said uncertainty about Napoli’s condition was a primary reason for calling up Willie Calhoun on Tuesday. The general manager said no other roster moves were planned considering Napoli’s status.

Banister said he wouldn’t rule out Napoli in the lineup at first base sometime in the last couple of weeks.

Daniels and Napoli both acknowledged that there is a risk the injury could worsen with continued use.

However, Napoli said, “that’s the risk I’m willing to take.”

The last 17 games and any in a possible postseason would in all likelihood be Napoli’s last with the Rangers in his third stint with the club.

At 35 and working under a one-year, $8.5 million contract, Napoli is not expected back next season.

He has underwhelmed this season. He has 26 home runs and 66 RBIs, but an OPS of .717. His .194 average is the lowest qualifying mark in the majors.

As far as Beltre, Banister said the veteran “keeps pushing the envelope.” The manager didn’t rule out him returning to play as a DH.

It’s a matter of how he responds to stepping up his activities.

“Tough guys, man,” Banister said. “You can see the passion for playing the game and how much they want to get this done. There’s no lack of effort, for sure.

“It’s an open line of communication of the truthfulness of where they’re at. I know how much you want to be in the game, but truthfully what can you give us today. This is not the time of the year we need to pretend to be a superhero. Be honest with what you’ve got, and let me figure out the rest.

Seattle

000

030

500

8

11

1

Texas

000

001

000

1

5

1

Seattle AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Segura ss

4

2

2

2

1

0

.297

Motter ss

0

0

0

0

0

0

.199

Haniger rf

5

1

2

0

0

2

.282

Cano 2b

4

0

1

0

0

2

.283

Beckham 2b

1

0

0

0

0

1

.000

Cruz dh

2

1

0

0

2

1

.284

Vogelbach ph-dh

1

0

0

0

0

0

.167

Seager 3b

4

1

1

2

1

0

.255

Valencia 1b

4

0

1

1

0

1

.260

Zunino c

2

2

2

2

2

0

.246

Heredia cf

4

1

1

0

0

0

.257

Gamel lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.279

Totals 35

8

11

7

6

8

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

DeShields cf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.281

Choo rf

3

0

1

0

1

1

.265

Andrus ss

4

1

1

0

0

0

.304

Mazara dh

3

0

0

0

1

0

.259

Gallo 1b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.206

Chirinos c

3

0

1

1

0

1

.269

Calhoun lf

2

0

0

0

0

0

.167

Beltre ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.314

Middlebrooks 3b

1

0

0

0

0

1

.188

Odor 2b

3

0

0

0

0

1

.211

Robinson 3b-lf

2

0

1

0

0

1

.225

Rua ph-lf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.222

Totals 31

1

5

1

2

10

E—Valencia (11), Robinson (2). LOB—Seattle 7, Texas 6. 2B—Haniger (21), Choo (20), Andrus (42), Robinson (3). HR—Zunino (22), off Perez; Segura (10), off Perez; Zunino (23), off Diekman. RBIs—Segura 2 (42), Seager 2 (79), Valencia (63), Zunino 2 (58), Chirinos (38). CS—DeShields (8). SF—Valencia. Runners left in scoring position—Seattle 2; Texas 5. DP—Seattle 2; Texas 2.

Seattle

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Leake, W 10-12

5 2/3

5

1

1

1

5

90

4.01

Pazos, H 9

 2/3

0

0

0

0

1

5

3.48

Pagan

 2/3

0

0

0

0

1

6

3.07

Rzepczynski

1

0

0

0

1

0

17

3.86

Diaz

1

0

0

0

0

3

11

3.52

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Perez, L 12-11

5 1/3

7

3

3

3

5

106

4.82

Rodriguez

 2/3

0

0

0

0

0

6

6.30

Bush

0

1

2

2

1

0

8

3.35

Diekman

 2/3

2

3

3

1

1

21

4.76

Barnette

1 1/3

1

0

0

0

1

19

4.70

Espino

1

0

0

0

1

1

13

5.40

HBP—Leake (Chirinos). T—3:08. A—23,083 (48,114).

Rangers vs. Mariners

7:05 p.m. Thursday, FSSW

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