Mike Napoli focused on championship, not contract

October 17, 2013 - 3:28 pm
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DETROIT -- First baseman Mike Napoli has been one of the few Red Sox hitters to make an impact in this series. He's 3-for-12 with a walk, a double and of course his Game 3, game-winning homer against Justin Verlander, continuing a year in which -- despite some considerable ups and downs -- he's delivered more or less everything the Sox could have hoped for when they pursued him last offseason and, after initially agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal that was scuttled by a diagnosis of a degenerative hip condition, was revised to a one-year, $5 million with incentives that pushed it up to $13 million for the 2013 year. Now, after a year in which his offensive performance -- a .259 average, .360 OBP, .482 slugging mark, 23 homers and 92 RBI in 139 games, along with better-than-expected defense at first base -- was very much in line with career norms, he is on the cusp of hitting the market again. Napoli will be a free agent once the World Series wraps up the season. But for now, Napoli is more focused on being the last team standing than the personal question of what lies beyond the crowning of a champion. "I'm not worried about that right now and I don't think they are right now. We're trying to win a championship," said Napoli. "I want to be here. I love it here. It's a great situation, great city, fans are awesome. It's been awesome. I want to be here, but we'll worry about that [later]." Whereas teams were reluctant to give Napoli a multi-year deal last winter once his hip condition was diagnosed, the fact that he's remained healthy this year and that the MRIs taken to date have shown no further degeneration of his hip condition suggest that he could be positioned well in an offseason market that has a shortage of first basemen. But again, Napoli suggests that there are more important things for him to worry about at this juncture. "I'll find out [if the industry views the risks associated with the hip any differently] in the offseason I guess. I'm pretty sure I'm still going to have to go through my physicals, see how my hips are, all this kind of stuff," said Napoli. "I'm not really worried about that right now. I'm worried about winning tonight."

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