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Mike Napoli on M&M: Loyalty Red Sox showed in offseason ‘goes a long way with me’

02.13.13 at 1:25 pm ET

New Red Sox first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and talked about the uncertainty he felt when his original free agent deal with the Sox was put on hold after a hip issue, avascular necrosis (AVN), was discovered. Napoli, who had agreed to a reported three-year, $39 million contract, settled for a one-year, $5 million pact instead.

“I’m not upset at all,” Napoli said. “It’s a business. They took what they had to do to see if I’m healthy. They found that [AVN]. It kind of stinks that I’m not guaranteed $39 million. But it’s good for my health as a person, off the field, too. We went to a bunch of doctors, figured out what I can do. I got on some medicine. I’m taking an MRI tomorrow to see how this medicine’s been doing with me.

“It’s been a tough winter, but I’m happy to be here. I feel good. I’m in good shape. So, I should be ready to go by Opening Day.”

Added Napoli: “The weird thing about this is I’ve never had any issue with pain or anything with AVN, avascular necrosis. There’s something that showed up on the MRI which is the start of AVN. So I got on medicine which is supposed to either stop the progress of it or make it better. This is the first MRI [Thursday] to see what the medicine is doing or if it’s working or whatever.”

Napoli explained that the extended delay between the original deal and the restructured contract was due in large part to time he spent with medical personnel trying to determine the specifics about his situation. While other teams did show interest, he said the Sox never wavered.

“For the most part, that long period of time was me going to different doctors, just figuring out my health and what I can do,” he said. “Eventually when I figured what I was going to do, the plan, there were other teams that contacted my agent and were interested. The Red Sox expressed all the interest. They didn’t go anywhere. Through this whole process they were supportive. They basically said, ‘Whatever we need to do to help you out, we’ll do.’ They expressed that they wanted me here. They stayed loyal to me. That goes a long way with me.”

Napoli said he doesn’t feel any discomfort, and he’s hoping to return to full baseball duties after Thursday’s MRI. He also said he doesn’t expect the situation to hinder him during the season.

“I should be in the lineup every day,” he said. “I haven’t felt anything. I just need this MRI so the doctor clears me, so I can go out there. I’ve been doing everything but running and taking ground balls.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On being recruited to Boston by John Lackey: “He definitely reached out to me a bunch of times, which is nice. You get feedback; he was telling me how great it is to play here, the atmosphere. ‘€¦ He had some of the other guys hit me up, too. [Dustin] Pedroia was hitting me up. [Will] Middlebrooks was asking me what was going on. [Jon] Lester chimed in there a little bit, too.”

On why he has a positive feeling about the Sox’ chances: “I have a pretty good vibe. I don’t know, it just seems right. They signed some guys here that are good clubhouse guys. There’s some veteran pitchers that have a little chip on their shoulder, that want to show people they can still play. I don’t know, it just seems like we all can mesh here. I haven’t been here that long, but I definitely got a good vibe.”

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