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Sunday, August 7, 2011
The void Mike Napoli left behind

A lot has been made of Mike Napoli's improved catching numbers since he left Anaheim, where he had to work under the steady gaze of Mike Scioscia.

Napoli has the lowest catcher's ERA (2.37) among active catchers with at least 250 innings.

"I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing things right," Napoli told the Dallas Morning News last week. "I had 'bad hands.' I was so worried about my setup and the mechanics all the time. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of what I do there, but playing there just wasn't much fun."

Scioscia said he didn't take exception to Napoli's comments, but he said he never told him he had bad hands. He simply urged him to use a bigger mitt, as he had done with several other catchers, including Bengie Molina. Also, Scioscia pointed out, the issue with Napoli's catching was the toll it took on him physically. He developed shoulder and forearm injuries that prohibited from catching after Aug. 1 last year.

It should be pointed out that Napoli has only caught 32 of the Rangers' 114 games this season. He has also played first base and designated hitter.

The bigger void Napoli left on the Angels was offensive. He is batting .296 with 18 home runs, 44 RBIs and a 1.011 OPS. Angels catchers combined rank No. 29 in OPS (.573). They have combined to hit seven home runs and drive in 34 runs.

"If he was healthy, he was a threat you would want to have in your lineup," Scioscia said. "The issue was keeping him healthy."

Here are lineups for Sunday's game vs. the Seattle Mariners:


1. Ichiro Suzuki DH

2. Jack Wilson SS

3. Dustin Ackley 2B

4. Mike Carp 1B

5. Casper Wells RF

6. Josh Bard C

7. Franklin Gutierrez CF

8. Trayvon Robinson LF

9. Kyle Seager 3B


1. Erick Aybar SS

2. Howie Kendrick 2B

3. Torii Hunter RF

4. Bobby Abreu DH

5. Vernon Wells LF

6. Alberto Callaspo 3B

7. Mark Trumbo 1B

8. Peter Bourjos CF

9. Bobby Wilson C