Mike Napoli's ankle slowly improving


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said his left ankle feels better, though he's still not able to run on it. He said he tried to run a week or 10 days ago and couldn't comfortably, so he stopped.

"But it's getting stronger," Napoli said. "There was no reason for me to push it, but it's getting stable. Dr. Meister looked at it (earlier in the offseason) and we're on track. I'll be ready for spring training."

Napoli injured the ankle in Game 6 of the World Series as he tripped over the second base bag in the fourth inning after St. Louis pitcher Fernando Salas made an errant throw. Napoli stayed in the game and X-rays were negative for a fracture, but he had stretched ligaments. He played Game 7 and said he didn't worry about the ankle for a week after the season. It was still bothering him and an MRI showed he was structurally fine and didn't need surgery. So he's received treatment and says he's getting better. He said that had the injury occurred during the regular season, he likely would have been on the DL.

Napoli is slated to report with the other catchers and pitchers on Feb. 22. He attended the club's Winter Caravan stop in Arlington and received a huge ovation and chants of "NAP-O-LI, NAP-O-LI" as he walked into the room at Academy Sports and Outdoors in Arlington on Wednesday night.

He still wants to stay in Texas long-term, despite the fact that the team and his agent are focused on a one-year deal right now. Napoli can become a free agent after the 2012 season.

"I want to be here for a long time," Napoli said. "Right now I'm letting my agent take care of that and I'm getting ready for the season. I'm trying to get my ankle healthy and just get ready."

Napoli said the fan reaction to him has been tremendous.

"It's everything an athlete asks for," Napoli said. "You want to be in your town and be known and be liked. It's definitely a great feeling, and I'm going to try to keep it going and do the best I can to keep everyone loving me here."

Napoli was asked about getting past the disappointment of Game 6.

"I'm not going to lie: It took me a little bit to get over it -- one strike away twice and didn't get it done," Napoli said. "You have to move on and try to chase it again this year."