Mike Napoli on chances of returning to Red Sox: 'I wouldn't see why not'

Rob Bradford
November 23, 2013 - 4:09 pm

The offseason seems to be fitting Mike Napoli just fine. Saturday afternoon, the free agent first baseman was content in spending his downtime signing autographs for a flood of fans at Johnny Cupcakes T-shirt store on Newbury Street. And while he will return home to Texas for a brief Thanksgiving week stay, Napoli will continue to call Boston home all the way up through the end of the year. There is no inkling that the uncertainty of free agency is weighing on the 32-year-old. '€œI know what to expect this year. I'€™m just going to let the process happen,'€ he told WEEI.com just prior to an hour-long signing session that celebrated the release of a new T-shirt. '€œI told [agent] Brian [Grieper] I don'€™t want to do the whole flying around here and there, meeting people. I'€™m just being patient, seeing my options. I do want to play here. You just have to go through that whole process and see what'€™s going to go on.'€ When asked why there would be no recruiting trips (like the one hosted by Red Sox principal owner John Henry last offseason), he said, '€œI'€™ve been to every city. I don'€™t have to see the cities. I feel like you can tell my agent on the phone what you'€™re going to tell me in person, what your plans are. I don'€™t need to go out to dinner or be spoiled in some way. I'€™m just not that type of person who wants to do that process. I didn'€™t want to do it last year, but I kind of had to. I like to be home and enjoy my time with my friends and family.'€ So, while Napoli clearly wants to return to the Red Sox, does he feel there is a good chance the two sides will come to an agreement? '€œI wouldn'€™t see why not,'€ he said. '€œI'€™ve got a great relationship with [Red Sox general manager] Ben [Cherington] and this whole organization. Hopefully it will come down to something where I come back here. '€œBut it'€™s part of the process. Some teams have needs. Of course I'€™m going to have my ears open. That'€™s part of free agency.'€ While this is the second straight year Napoli has had to go through the free agent process, he reiterates this time around figures to be different. Napoli is not only coming off a world championship season, in which he totaled an .842 OPS with 23 home runs, but can call himself a plus-defender at a position (first) that doesn'€™t have much competition in the free agent market. And then there is his health. Napoli recently received the results of his season-ending MRI, getting more evidence than the Avascular necrosis in his hips aren'€™t currently an issue. '€œEverything was the same,'€ he said of the latest examination. '€œIt might have even have been a slight, slight improvement. The hips aren'€™t really an issue. I showed I could play the whole year and have it stay the same, so that'€™s encouraging.'€ The current plan for Napoli is to stick to his normal offseason routine, starting workouts in December. While he isn'€™t shy about expressing his desire to return to the Sox, Napoli is keeping all options open, evidently including the Rangers despite their recent acquisition of first baseman Prince Fielder. '€œThings happen. I definitely enjoyed my time playing there,'€ he said of Texas. '€œI'€™m familiar with that place. You never know what'€™s going to happen. They still have some needs, so we'€™ll see what happens. '€œI'€™m going to be playing somewhere next year. There'€™s not a timeline for me. What'€™s going to happen, is going to happen.'€