Buzz: Napoli not comfortable at the plate

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
1:59
PM CT
SEATTLE -- There's a package sitting near the entrance of the Rangers' clubhouse at Safeco Field with catcher Mike Napoli's name written on the outside of the box.

Inside the box are a number of Napoli's bats just waiting to be used at the plate, but he won't see an at-bat in Wednesday's game. He's got the day off with Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate.

Even if he did get a plate apperance, odds are it wouldn't be pretty, given his recent slump. Napoli said he doesn't feel comfortable at the plate recently. He's batting .210 (13-of-62) in May and slugging .290 with a .315 on-base percentage.

"Right now, I get in there and sometimes I feel good, sometimes I don’t," Napoli said. "More times, I don’t."

Rangers manager Ron Washington said it seems as if Napoli is consistently swinging at balls and not strikes. Napoli has at least one strikeout in 32 of 39 games played. He added to his total Tuesday with an 0-for-3, three strikeout performance. The sliver sombrero gives Napoli 49 strikeouts this season, which puts him in a tie for third in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays' Kelly Johnson and the New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson.

"It takes time," Washington said. "Sometimes you’re in a funk and it just takes time. You just got to keep battling and all of a sudden one pitcher gives you an opportunity to feel good about yourself and then you’re rolling."

The numbers are similar to the season he had last year, when he struggled through May and June before landing on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle June 12. He went on to have a monster second half, posting a .386 batting average and slugging .706.

"You can ask any player and there's a part of the year that they struggle, and there's a part of the year that they know things are going to be right," Washington said. Maybe May is his time. It's only our second year with him. Maybe it's the time that he struggles and then he comes out of it."

Despite his woes at the plate, Napoli said the only thing keeping him sane is his play behind the plate. That was on display in Tuesday's 3-1 victory. After the game, pitcher Matt Harrison said he felt he was on the same page with Napoli, which helped him settle in after the first inning.

"There’s a lot of parts to the game he can play and if one of them isn’t working, just play the other one," Washington said. "He’s doing a good job with that."

Napoli isn't worried about his recent performance and knows it can take a few at-bats to feel comfortable again. He isn't giving up until he reaches that point.

"I’m going to keep grinding and going until I figure it out," Napoli said.

Notes: Thanks to Harrison's ability to eat up innings Tuesday, Washington said every pitcher is available from the bullpen after pitcher Scott Feldman. Harrison went seven innings and picked up the win due to two solid outings from Mike Adams in the eighth with two on and no outs and Joe Nathan in the ninth.

"Everyone is rested, so it's up to Feldman to take us as deep as he possibly can," Washington said.

The Rangers will finally get a day off Thursday after a stretch of 20 games.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.328 14 53 52
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .899
WY. Darvish 9
ERAY. Darvish 2.88
SOY. Darvish 154