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MRI reveals no change in Mike Napoli’s hip condition

08.07.13 at 4:07 am ET
By
Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli

HOUSTON — Mike Napoli has been dealing with on-again, off-again batting slumps throughout the past few months — with Tuesday night’s 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance (in which he left seven runners on base) serving as a downturn.

But Napoli recently received the kind of news that might outweigh even the most frustrating of stretches.

The Red Sox first baseman got back the results of an MRI that revealed his degenerative hip condition — avascular necrosis — hasn’t gotten any worse.

“I feel like I’m going to be healthy and everything is fine,” Napoli told WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox’ 15-10 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. “I took another MRI and it was exactly identical to my last MRI. That was great news.”

The MRI, which was administered by Dr. Peter Asnis and reviewed by Dr. Joseph Lane, was taken the morning after Napoli’s walk-off home run against the Yankees, July 21. The examination was originally scheduled to take place three months after the MRI executed in February, but was pushed back until after the All-Star break.

“I’ve played three-quarters of the year, and to have it identical to the last one, that’s where we want it to be,” he said. “It was definitely a good feeling. When they told me I was excited about it.

“You don’t really know how it’s going to turn out. I feel fine, but I felt fine before. I didn’t even know I had it. Going into it there was this weird feeling of not knowing if it got worse. I was kind of scared to take the MRI. I wasn’t feeling anything, but I thought about what if it was getting worse and they said I had to do something about it. Being told that is just a great feeling.”

The hip condition was enough of a cause for concern that the Red Sox knocked down their original offer of three years, $39 million to a one-year deal that can reach $13 million with incentives.

Thus far, the issue hasn’t kept Napoli off the field, with the first baseman playing the third-most games (103) of any Red Sox player.

“I wasn’t even really thinking about it until they said I had to get an MRI because it had been a while,” he said. “But once I got the results it was really good news. I didn’t know how it was going to be. But everything feels great. I haven’t had any problems.”

Napoli has struggled since receiving the MRI results, hitting .200 while striking out 20 times in 50 at-bats. But in his 50 previous at-bats, the first baseman had seemingly rediscovered his stroke, totaling a .913 OPS.

Heading into the series finale with the Astros, Napoli is hitting .251 with 14 home runs and a .785 OPS. And even though he only has a few more guaranteed months of playing for the Red Sox, he hasn’t let another round of free agency serve as a distraction.

“It’s a different feeling from what I had last year,” Napoli said. “I just feel like everything is going to be fine and everything is going to fall into place.

“It was just new. I was going to be a free agent. I was going to be able to test the market. It was just new to me. I didn’t know how it was going to go. I know now how it is. I feel like I’m in a good situation.”

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