Banister Once Again Backs Napoli in LF

It's hard to dog Rangers manager Jeff Banister too much for his recent experiment of putting Mike Napoli in left field against left-handed pitchers to get Napoli's lefty-crushing bat in the lineup and extend the batting order.

The results have spoken for themselves as the Rangers improved to 5-1 with the lineup in Tuesday night's win in Oakland and another lefty on the hill Wednesday night. But the actual play from Napoli in left field has been atrocious — of no fault to Napoli really, considering he'd never played in the outfield before a week or so ago.

Napoli's defense in the outfield reared its ugly head again on Tuesday night when he straight up dropped a two-out fly ball to score a run for the A's in the fifth inning. Of course, he came back in the next half-inning, got on base via infield single and was lifted for pinch-runner Will Venable, who scored on Mitch Moreland's game-tying homer.

Banister once again defended the decision to put Napoli in the lineup despite his unsightly two errors in four total chances in left field, leading to a remarkably putrid .500 fielding percentage, and again, it's hard to argue too much given his club's record with the lineup.

"If Nap's not in left field, he's probably at first base and Mitch is not in the game,'' Banister told reporters. "We want all our bats in the lineup. Nap's going to continue to learn from it ... and we'll continue to look at it."

So there you go, expect to see Napoli in the lineup in left field again on Wednesday, and go ahead and expect another win, I guess.

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