Will Middlebrooks thinks Mike Napoli is going to be fine

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Mike Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips during his pre-signing physical with the Red Sox, but he hasn’t experienced any problems related to the disease up to this point and received a rave review Saturday afternoon from new teammate and offseason workout partner Will Middlebrooks.

“Not at all,” the Red Sox third baseman told WEEI when asked if Napoli has shown any signs of being hindered by the condition. “It doesn’t hurt him, and he’ll tell you the same thing. It’s just one of those things that’s tough because he doesn’t have any of the symptoms, but it’s there. He’s awesome. He’s fun to be around. He’s been one of my main hitting partners during the past month. He’s going to be great for this clubhouse.”

Napoli was originally offered a three-year, $39 million free agent contract from the Red Sox front office, but that was later shifted to a one-year, $5 million deal. He will start at first base for Boston in 2013.

Doctors believe they caught Napoli’s AVN early enough to prevent it from causing long-term issues.

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.