With the distraction of contract talks gone, Rangers’ catcher Mike Napoli is ready to get back to baseball.
The one-year, $9.4 million deal was finalized over this weekend, allowing Napoli and the Rangers to avoid an arbitration hearing in Tampa Bay, Florida on Wednesday--and in the words of Napoli, represented a “ton of bricks” off of his back.
"It feels good to get it done and not have to worry about that this week," Napoli said, per ESPN Dallas.
Napoli is set to leave for Surprise, Arizona this weekend, well before the other pitchers and catchers are set to report, and even that seems a long ways off for the Rangers’ catcher, who is chomping at the bit to get started on the 2012 season.
"I can’t wait to get back there and see all those boys and get back into it again," Napoli said. "I wish I was leaving now. I’m ready to do baseball stuff and not just working out."
As for Napoli’s injured left ankle, he said it is still not at 100 percent after being injured in Game Six of last year’s Fall Classic, but he’s been encouraged by the progress he’s made, including running on the ankle.
"I think I’m close," he said. "I’m not really going to know until I get into the wear and tear of spring training and catching all the time. But I've been feeling good and getting better day by day."