- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that personality conflicts with catcher Mike Napoli had nothing to do with the January trade that cost the Angels one of the most powerful hitters in the American League and saddled them with the onerous contract of Vernon Wells.
Scioscia said injuries and durability issues were at the crux of the trade.
"We did not butt heads, that's absolutely false," Scioscia said on the "Mason and Ireland Show" on ESPN 710. "Mike had to work on stuff that didn't come naturally to him, more so than other catchers who maybe do it more naturally."
Wells had the lowest on-base percentage, .248, among all qualified major league hitters while making $24 million last year.
Napoli has been Texas' most dangerous hitter in the World Series, with two home runs and nine RBIs in five games. Napoli caught 61 games for the Rangers during the regular season, doing much of his damage as a designated hitter or first baseman.
Scioscia said a forearm injury meant Napoli couldn't catch from Aug. 1 until the end of the 2010 season. He batted .238 in his final season with the Angels, including .182 with runners in scoring position.
In August, Napoli told the Dallas Morning News he felt constrained by Scioscia's high demands on his catchers.
"I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing things right," Napoli said. "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 acknowledged the trade hasn't worked out as the Angels envisioned. On Sept. 30, Angels general manager Tony Reagins stepped down under pressure from owner Arte Moreno and the Angels are deep into their search for his replacement. The team also fired its farm director, two top scouts and assistant general manager Ken Forsch.
"I think we have to wait a couple years first. Right now, it's obvious. Mike Napoli is having an incredible run with Texas," Scioscia said. "He was certainly capable of doing what he did and we valued him. The thing that cracks me up is when people say we didn't think he was any good. We played him a lot more than Texas has this year over his career with us."
Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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