Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the Indians have signed Mike Napoli to a minor league deal.
Napoli hit .193/.285/.428 in 485 plate appearances last year but somehow managed to hit 29 home runs. It’s not necessarily the case that time has caught up with him, though, as he suffered a slew of injuries last year including a lower back strain, a stress reaction in his right leg and a torn ligament in his right hand, which was not diagnosed until after the season, after which he had surgery. Which, sure, I suppose his suffering multiple injuries could mean time is catching up with him, but we don’t yet know for sure if his bat is toast.
It’s not clear where the 36-year-old would fit in the Indians’ roster plans — they have Yonder Alonso at first base and Edwin Encarnacion at DH — but depth is depth and injuries happen.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.