Mike Napoli talks extension, ankle, Darvish

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
12:15
AM CT
Rangers catcher Mike Napoli is one of the "core" players the club would like to sign to a long-term extension and, as we discussed here earlier this week, the team and Napoli's representatives have had a few conversations about that. Talks are in the preliminary stages. Napoli said he leaves that stuff to his agent, but clearly wants to be in Texas.

"I definitely want to be here for the rest of my career, to tell you the truth," Napoli said. "Just coming from another organization and then coming to the Rangers organization, I think I fit in well. I’m really comfortable and I feel like we can win for a long time."

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
Jeff Curry/US PresswireMike Napoli hurt his ankle in Game 6 of the World Series but doesn't expect any issues once spring training begins.
Napoli admits that it's taken some time for the pain of the World Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals to dissipate somewhat.

"It took me time to get over it," Napoli said. "It hurt. To know you were so close -- one strike away two times -- to being world champs, it tore at me. But I know we have a good chance of repeating and being there again."

And for Napoli, that pain wasn't just figurative. He sustained a sprained ankle in Game 6 of the World Series tripping over the second-base bag in the fourth inning after an errant throw by pitcher Fernando Salas. Napoli stayed in the game and X-rays were negative, though he stretched ligaments. He played Game 7, as well.

After the season, Napoli had an MRI done to make sure there was nothing structurally wrong (there wasn't) and was in a walking boot for about a week. He's been going to therapy every day to treat the ankle, but is still able to work out and doesn't expect any issues once spring training begins.

"Sometimes there's more swelling when I'm walking around," Napoli said. "But it's OK. There are bone bruises and that takes some time [to heal]. It could have been a lot worse."

Napoli has followed the offseason transactions and hopes to be catching balls thrown by Yu Darvish in spring training in a few months, assuming Darvish and the Rangers reach an agreement in the next month.

"I guess everyone thought it would be the Blue Jays," Napoli said. "It’s kind of exciting. You hear about this guy that's a stud, is real young and has lots of arm. You hope they can get a deal."

Napoli said he's seen video of Darvish on television but will be studying him more should the Rangers get him signed.

"That’s what spring training is for," Napoli said. "I’ll learn what he likes to do and be in the right spots for him."

Napoli gave credit to his former team, the Los Angeles Angels, for going out and signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the final day of the Winter Meetings in Dallas.

"They are definitely making moves," Napoli said. "It goes to show you the type of team we have that other teams have to make some moves and try to stay with us. I’m still confident we have the best team in the division, and we hold the division title. That has to be taken away from us. We have a great team still and no one is scared of anything. We want to go out and play."

As for motivation, Napoli believes the World Series loss will provide plenty of it.

"It does for me," Napoli said. "A lot of those guys it’s happened twice to them. It should drive you. I've been working out for three weeks and every time I go into the gym it's extra motivation to be the best I can because I want to do it again. I would hope it drives everyone, and I think it does."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182