That Mike Napoli ended up accepting a one-year, $5 million guarantee from the Red Sox after originally agreeing to a three-year, $39 million contract suggested that something pretty bad was going on with his hip. The details came out today, courtesy of Napoli’s agent: Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips.
Avascular necrosis is pretty much what it sounds like: the death of bone due to a lack of blood supply. According to Wikipedia, it’s most common in the hip, though it can also take place at the shoulder, knee and other joints.
The 31-year-old Napoli has experienced no symptoms as a result of the condition. According to his agent, it was caught at the very early stages, having been revealed in the Red Sox’s original physical. While people with avascular necrosis of the hip often end up needing a total hip replacement, that appears to be many years off in this case, if it ever proves necessary at all.
Bo Jackson’s is the most famous case of avascular necrosis, with his developing after he injured his hip in an NFL game. He later returned to baseball and the major leagues, but he was never the same kind of athlete.
Brett Favre was also diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip in 1992. He never required surgery and did OK for himself playing football for a couple of decades.
The Red Sox are planning on Napoli being their everyday first baseman this season after finalizing the contract. Playing the position should definitely be easier on his body than catching. Napoli said he’s on medication to help stave off any symptoms and that he’s really excited for the season to start up.