Mike Napoli
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Mike Napoli announces retirement

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First baseman Mike Napoli has decided to retire from Major League Baseball. Napoli announced his decision in a social media post on Saturday, thanking his family, agent, and previous teams for helping shape his 12-year career in the majors.

“I dreamed about playing baseball since I was a little kid growing up in Hollywood, FL,” Napoli wrote, “and I was lucky enough to get paid to play a kids game for 18 years. Along the way, I formed a ton of lifelong relationships with my teammates, coaches and front office personnel. I want to give a special thanks to my brothers on the 2011 Rangers, 2013 Red Sox and 2016 Indians. Without them, I would never have had the opportunity to play in three World Series, all incredibly memorable, and win one epic Championship with my Bearded Brothers in Beantown. I was blessed to be mentored by great people at the beginning of my career with the Angels and was able to bring that winning attitude to each clubhouse that I was fortunate to be a part of.”

Napoli, 37, has not appeared in a major league game since September 14, 2017. He inked a minor league contract with the Indians in February, but made it through just seven games in Triple-A before a torn ACL and meniscus forced him to undergo season-ending knee surgery. With a projected recovery timetable of 10-14 months and no promise of another major-league call-up, retirement seemed to be the inevitable next step for the veteran infielder.

He’ll leave behind a storied major league career, one which saw him contribute to eight postseason runs with the 2007 – 2009 Angels, 2011, 2012 and 2015 Rangers, 2013 World Champion Red Sox and 2016 Indians. He turned in his most impressive regular-season performance in 2011, when he slugged .320/.414/.631 with 30 home runs, a 1.046 OPS, and 5.4 fWAR across 432 PA for the Rangers. The following season, he earned his first and only All-Star berth after a strong showing in the first half, but slumped to a .227 average and 2.1 fWAR by season’s end. During his final major league campaign in 2017, the aging first baseman took another one-year deal with the Rangers and slashed a career-worst .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and a .428 OPS in 485 PA.

While his playing days are well behind him now, Napoli doesn’t appear to be closing the door on future MLB opportunities. He may never squat behind the plate or man first base in another major league game, but a front-office gig or media role may still be open to him. “I look forward to exploring opportunities in the baseball world as I plan to continue giving back to the game that has given me so much,” he said.

Dustin Pedroia going back on injured list

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Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.

Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.

Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.

I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.

It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.