Mike Napoli has been out since August 11 with a quadriceps injury, but the Rangers catcher took a big step in his recovery yesterday by spending seven innings behind the plate in a minor-league rehab game.
In addition to catching seven innings Napoli went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch in Game 2 of the Double-A playoffs and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that he could be back in the Rangers’ lineup as soon as this weekend.
Napoli’s injury combined with the Rangers’ decision to part with Yorvit Torrealba has left Geovany Soto as their primary catcher. Soto, who was acquired from the Cubs on July 31, has started 24 of the past 30 games while hitting just .219 with a .639 OPS for the Rangers.
Even while seeing his OPS drop nearly 300 points compared to last season’s breakout Napoli posted a .771 OPS with 17 homers in 92 games before being shut down.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.