Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Napoli's addition perks up Indians camp

Tribe teammates excited to have slugger back in clubhouse
February 28, 2018

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jose Ramirez lit up and gave Mike Napoli a bear hug when the slugger walked into the Indians' clubhouse on Wednesday morning. Josh Tomlin nearly knocked Napoli over when he jumped on his back upon seeing him in the team's training room.Even if Napoli's reunion with the

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jose Ramirez lit up and gave Mike Napoli a bear hug when the slugger walked into the Indians' clubhouse on Wednesday morning. Josh Tomlin nearly knocked Napoli over when he jumped on his back upon seeing him in the team's training room.
Even if Napoli's reunion with the Tribe lasts only a month, it is still worth it to everyone around the ballclub.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"He's a special guy," Indians closer Cody Allen said. "His name carries a lot of weight, not only in this clubhouse, but others around baseball. And he's earned it. ... This organization is a lot better off having had Mike Napoli as a part of it."
Napoli's Minor League deal with Cleveland became public knowledge on Tuesday and was officially announced on Wednesday, when he donned a No. 32 jersey and went through the morning's workout with Cleveland. The Indians invited the veteran to camp on a non-roster deal and are offering him a chance to train with the Tribe, even if it serves as an audition for another organization.
Spring Training:Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear
Napoli, who was training with unsigned free agents at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., appreciated Cleveland bringing him back into the fold. It would take an injury to Edwin Encarnacion or Yonder Alonso for Napoli to realistically find himself in the Opening Day picture with the Indians, but he is nonetheless thrilled to be back with the team he helped reach the World Series in 2016.
"I'm very fortunate that this organization is giving me the opportunity to come here," Napoli said. "[Manager Terry Francona] means a lot to me. For him to allow me to come here and be a part of this camp and be myself and do what I do, help the guys out in any way and also try to get me into shape and get ready to play baseball, it's just a great opportunity for me. And I'm grateful for it."
Napoli is also reunited with Rajai Davis, who was with the Indians in '16 and is back again this spring on a similar Minor League contract. Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall joked that Cleveland was "getting the band back together."
"It brings back memories of that season we had," Napoli said. "It was such a good run. The chemistry we had, the relationships we built over the year, it was special. It was something we'll never forget. It was pretty cool to see [Rajai], just joking around like we used to with each other. It was cool to see."

Injury updates
• In the Tribe's split-squad game against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz., infielder Erik Gonzalez exited with an apparent right leg injury. Gonzalez, who is vying for a utility job this spring, appeared to jam his leg on second base while trying to advance on a passed ball. More details should be available Thursday.

• Outfielder Brandon Guyer (left wrist) resumed non-contact swinging on Tuesday, marking the first step within a hitting program. Guyer is also testing out a bat with an axe handle this spring to see whether it can help take some pressure off his wrist while swinging. Chisenhall, who dealt with a left wrist impingement in 2016, has used a bat with an axe handle for the past two seasons and raves about the difference it has made.
• Left fielder Michael Brantley (right ankle) was scheduled to do more "forward and backward" running on Wednesday, according to Francona. The manager noted that Brantley has been getting "a little more aggressive" with each running workout. There is still no established timetable for his return to games.

• Right-hander Danny Salazar (right shoulder) played catch on back-to-back days this week for the first time this spring, but remains limited to 75 feet as his maximum throwing distance. The pitcher said he was experiencing discomfort in his arm earlier in camp, but has felt better in recent days. Salazar hopes to build up to long toss soon.
Camp battles
In Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Mariners, outfield candidate Melvin Upton Jr. went 1-for-3 with a home run. Veteran Rajai Davis, who is also competing for an outfield job, went 1-for-4. Giovanny Urshela (out of options and up against Gonzalez for a utility job this spring) went 2-for-3 as Cleveland's shortstop.
In the split squad's 15-3 win against the Angels, lefty Ryan Merritt allowed one unearned run in 1 2/3 innings. Merritt (out of options) is trying to win a spot on the Tribe's crowded pitching staff.
Worth noting
• Francona said the team's two new Major League coaches, Brian Sweeney and Mark Budzinski, will dive more into their planned responsibilities once the regular season starts. Sweeney will help create advance reports for the pitching staff, while giving pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Scott Atchison an extra set of eyes. Budzinski will assist with the hitters and help prepare Francona's advance report for each series.
• Allen and relief ace Andrew Miller are tentatively scheduled to make their Cactus League debuts on Friday at home against the Rangers. Through the first week of preseason games, Allen and Miller have been throwing to hitters in morning workouts.
Up next
Right-hander Stephen Fife, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee this spring, is scheduled to start for the Indians in a 3:05 p.m. ET Cactus League clash with the Dodgers on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz. Major League relievers Nicholas Goody and Tyler Olson are among the other pitchers slated to appear. Bullpen candidate Matt Belisle will make his Cactus League debut.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.