We learned last week that Mike Napoli had yet to run comfortably on the left ankle injury that he suffered in an awkward baserunning play at second base during Game 6 of the World Series against the Cardinals, but he has made some progress over the past few days.
According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Napoli did some straight-line running with minimal discomfort and expects to be ready when spring training begins next month.
“The ankle felt pretty good,” Napoli said. “I ran with a sled to put a little weight behind it and it came out pretty good. I think it’s just me trusting it again. I’m going to have to work through some pain and feel some things, but it’s feeling good. I still have to get some more strength in it, but it’s definitely on its way.”
X-rays on the ankle came back negative for a fracture, but he was diagnosed with “stretched ligaments.”
Napoli, who batted .320 with 30 homers and a 1.046 OPS last season, requested $11.5 million and was offered $8.3 million from the Rangers when arbitration figures were exchanged on Tuesday. He is due to become a free agent following the 2012 season.
With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.
Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.
After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.