Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers celebrates his two-run home run with teammate David Murphy in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park April 18, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Mike Napoli has a lot more in common with Bo Jackson than we ever thought.
No, Napoli isn't a big leaguer who moonlights as an NFL running back as a "hobby" and the best running back in football. His likeness isn't in a Saturday morning cartoon about sports superheroes (do they even have Saturday morning cartoons anymore?).
Nope, what the former Texas Rangers catcher and new Boston Red Sox first baseman has in common with the man simply known as "Bo" is not a good thing. Turns out, Napoli is suffering from the same hip ailment that ended Jackson's athletic career in the middle of his prime, something called avascular necrosis. If you're a Latin expert like me, you know that basically means something about bone, death and something about blood flow. In other words, it's not a good thing.
Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal back in December after the Rangers declined to pick up his qualifying offer of $13.3 million, which would've meant they either would've had Napoli for one year or would've received a first-round pick from any club that signed him.
Then, the Red Sox waffled for weeks, and weeks and never officially announced the Napoli contract after rumors surfaced that the Red Sox weren't comfortable with their findings after Napoli's physical. Now, we know why, and we know why, perhaps, the Rangers didn't give Napoli that one-year qualifying offer.
The Boston Globe said this...
"Among the listed causes of AVN are steroid use, trauma, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and alcoholism, or it could be idiopathic, meaning no cause can be determined. Certainly Napoli has had his share of wear and tear, being a catcher."
Other people who have suffered from this ailment include cyclist Floyd Landis, who won the Tour de France with an artificial hip before having his title stripped because of doping. Brett Favre also suffered from the ailment, and while it never impacted him seriously during his playing career, he does say it "still bothers him from time to time," as he told the Associated Press in 2005.
So, what's all this mean? Not sure yet. Napoli could play his entire career and never really see anything serious come out of this, but it seems likely that at some point he will need corrective surgery to fix the hip. That's some unfortunate news to hear about one of the all-time Rangers fan favorites.