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Napoli to return as Indians DH today

Special to MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Napoli will DH against the Brewers today in his first Cactus League appearance since rejoining the Indians earlier this week.

Against the backdrop of a slow free-agent market, the veteran slugger was invited to Major League camp on a Minor League deal. Even though Cleveland appears set at first base and DH with Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso, Napoli has the opportunity to stay game-ready until an opportunity presents itself. Whether that opportunity is with the Tribe or another club, he will always be grateful for the Indians' generosity this spring.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Napoli will DH against the Brewers today in his first Cactus League appearance since rejoining the Indians earlier this week.

Against the backdrop of a slow free-agent market, the veteran slugger was invited to Major League camp on a Minor League deal. Even though Cleveland appears set at first base and DH with Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso, Napoli has the opportunity to stay game-ready until an opportunity presents itself. Whether that opportunity is with the Tribe or another club, he will always be grateful for the Indians' generosity this spring.

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It speaks to the bond that developed between Napoli and the Indians in his one season in Cleveland, when he had career-highs with 34 homers and 101 RBIs for the 2016 team that reached the World Series.

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"We all understand what is going on," Napoli said. "For them to give me an opportunity, I'm very grateful for it. Hopefully I'll be able to be picked up or leave with this team. This came up, and I wanted to take full advantage."

Napoli, who had 267 career homers, spent time with a host of other unsigned free agents in the IMG workout camp earlier this spring, but there is no substitute for game situations and game reps.

"To be able to come here and get into some baseball shape and be able to get on the field, I'm excited about it," he said. "It's run really well around here. It's a fun place to be, especially going through the days of Spring Training when things get long and you start champing at the bit to get going. It's a great group of guys. I feel good. I'm just going to embrace everything."

Bench coach Brad Mills applauded the organization for bringing in Napoli.

"It's a quality organization, and they care about people," Mills said. "It will be fun to see him get some swings in."

Video: Tomlin, Allen discuss Indians bringing back Napoli

Tomlin has a tough go
Right-hander Josh Tomlin, firmly ensconced in the starting rotation while Danny Salazar works his way back from a shoulder setback, scuffled against a mostly "B" lineup in a 13-4 loss to the Giants on Saturday.

Tomlin struck out four, but he gave up five runs on six hits in two innings while throwing 44 pitches. Two ground balls found holes for singles, and he also gave up a long double to former teammate Austin Jackson and a two-run homer to Gorkys Hernandez in a four-run second inning.

"He kept the ball down really well," said Mills, who managed the game in place of an ill Terry Francona.

"Some of the other pitches got too much of the plate. The thing with Josh that is so great, no matter what happens, he still goes with his game plan to get to that command. Once he can get that, we'll have the Josh Tomlin we've seen.

"That's one of the reasons he needs to get out there as many times as he can-- to throw the pitches and get that command."

Position battles
Giovanny Urshela played second base and hit his first homer of the spring Saturday. He is competing for a spot on a bench that will likely have only three position players, including one catcher, as Cleveland is expected to open the season with 13 pitchers.

Urshela, who has played mostly third base in his two Major League seasons, is 8-for-15 with two doubles and four RBIs in six games. With Jose Ramirez able to play second and third, there would be a fit.

Erik Gonzalez, another candidate for a reserve spot, is 3-for-9 in four games.

Video: Kluber, Zimmer discuss expectations for 2018

Injury update
• Francona and second baseman Jason Kipnis were away from camp with the same flu-like symptoms that kept away Andrew Miller for a few days. Several Cactus League clubs have been afflicted by the bug. The Dodgers sent 25 players and staff home Thursday because of the flu.

• Outfielder Brandon Guyer (wrist) was able to hit off a tee for the second day in a row on Saturday, a spring first.

Up next
Right-hander Corey Kluber is scheduled to start against Milwaukee at Maryvale Baseball Park at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday in a matchup available on Gameday Audio. Kluber is expected to go three innings after giving up a run in two innings in his Cactus League debut.

Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Mike Napoli, Josh Tomlin