Rangers catcher Mike Napoli has taken a big step forward in his ongoing recovery from the high ankle sprain that he suffered in World Series Game 6.
According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, the 30-year-old slugger caught three innings Thursday in an instrasquad game and “felt good.”
Napoli had been limited to drills and light jogging since arriving in Rangers camp due to lingering pain in his left ankle. But he seems to be moving rapidly past that discomfort, and is expected to be fully healthy by the start of the regular season.
Napoli batted .320/.414/.631 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI in 113 games last year for Texas. He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Wednesday night that he intends to test the free agent market in the fall.
Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.
Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.
The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.