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.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.