SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Mike Napoli sustained a serious right knee injury while playing for Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, creating questions about where the first baseman's career will go from here. The Indians announced prior to Thursday's game in Baltimore that Napoli will require season-ending surgery.
Indians manager Terry Francona exchanged text messages with Napoli prior to the Indians' game against the Twins on Wednesday in San Juan,.
"I told him, 'Things happen for a reason,'" Francona said. "Who knows? Maybe this now starts him on a second journey in his career. I'm not speaking for him -- that's not fair. But that's what I hope."
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The Indians announced that Napoli sustained a torn right ACL and meniscus and will require 10-14 months of recovery in order to allow the swelling to recede. Napoli was running after a foul popup down the right-field line against Pawtucket at Huntington Park when his right knee buckled.
Over 12 Major League seasons, Napoli has played in three World Series -- including in 2016 with the Indians -- and won one championship (2013 Red Sox). The catcher turned first baseman belted 267 home runs across his tours with the Angels, Rangers, Indians and Red Sox.
The Indians brought the 36-year-old Napoli to Spring Training this year as a non-roster invitee, giving him a chance to audition for a Major League job elsewhere. When an opportunity did not arise, Napoli accepted Cleveland's offer to open the season with Triple-A Columbus. In eight games, Napoli went 3-for-24 with one home run for the Clippers.
"He was an impact player," Francona said. "My guess is he'll impact the game doing something else now."