FORT MYERS, Fla. — He was a catcher, now he is a first baseman. He had a three-year, $39 million contract, now he has a one-year, $5 million contract. He was a 31-year-old athlete with more fortune and glory ahead of him. Now he hopes to be able to walk when he is 50.
Say hello to Red Sox free agent acquisition Mike Napoli.
Two months ago, after Napoli agreed to a whopper contract with the Red Sox, he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hips. It’s the disease that ended the football/baseball career of Bo Jackson. It’s a lack of blood flow that can result in bone death. It could mean a couple of hip replacements for Napoli someday. Or worse.
This is not a good situation. For anybody. The Sox are looking for lineup protection for David Ortiz. They were willing to commit almost $40 million to Napoli. Now everything has changed. Napoli is damaged goods. And, like any normal human being, he is thinking about how this will affect him long after his playing days are over.
Looking like the world’s oldest 31-year-old man, Napoli sat in front of his locker at JetBlue Park Saturday morning and said, “I have to look at my life. I want to be able to walk when I am older and be able to play with my kids.’’
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