Anaheim, Calif. is still a special place to Mike Napoli.
"This is where it all started for me," Napoli said before Friday's game against the Angels, according to MLB.com. "I was drafted in 2000 and made my big league debut in 2006. I have a lot of great memories. I was fortunate to learn from some great teammates who taught me the way the game's played, how you go about your business."
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Napoli must have learned a thing or two during his tenure on the Angels because he made three postseason appearances in his five seasons with them and went on to two more with the Texas Rangers in his next two seasons.
With a record like that, and when you look at what he’s done for the Sox so far, it’s hard to say that Napoli isn’t a reason why these teams make it to the postseason. He may not have the best average, but he has the second most RBIs on the Sox with 55. John Lackey, who was with the Angels for eight seasons before coming to Boston, offered some words on Napoli as well.
"It's good being back with Nap,” Lackey said according to MLB.com. “He's obviously a great player and a winner. He gets after it."
Since he’s left the Angels, Napoli has been giving them hell. In the 36 games Napoli had against the Angels before this series, he had a .368 average, 12 homers, and 25 RBIs against his former team. Friday night, he added one more home run to the list.
Napoli wasn’t a stranger to Fenway Park before this season. All three of his postseason appearances with the Angels resulted in an American League Division Series against the Sox. The Angels lost in 2007 and 2008, but swept the Sox in 2009. Still, he’s happy in his new home.
"It's been awesome here from Day 1," Napoli said according to MLB.com. "Going into a new clubhouse, I figured I'd feel things out. But from Day 1, it's like we've all been together for years. We have so much fun here. We tell everyone no one's safe."
"Along with being on a team that's so much fun," Napoli said, "you get that atmosphere in Boston. I like it when you're expected to win every night, to get a hit. Every night you're supposed to bring it."
And for the Sox, Napoli does bring it. He’s batting .260, but his RBIs tell the story. He has been extremely productive. He was 0-for-4 last night until he blasted out a solo home run in the top of the ninth, giving the Sox a comfortable four-run lead.
Napoli has suffered injuries, but he’s always there when it counts. This season, he has the potential to make his sixth postseason in his eight seasons in the majors. The closest he has come to a World Series ring was in 2011 with the Rangers, but they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. But who knows? Maybe this will be his World Series season.