Napoli (leg) to pinch-hit, DH down stretch

'We are going to do what's best for the team,' Rangers veteran says

Napoli (leg) to pinch-hit, DH down stretch

ANAHEIM -- Mike Napoli will likely finish the season as a pinch-hitter off the bench and occasional designated hitter. Napoli is dealing with a stress reaction in the fibia of his right leg and admitted in a meeting with manager Jeff Banister on Friday that playing at first base was not a good idea.

"I'm not 100 percent healthy," Napoli said. "I don't want to put myself in a situation where I am doing us more harm than good because I'm trying to go out there and gut it out and not doing the things I can do when I am healthy. I want us to win."

Napoli's stress reaction really flared up in the last 7-10 days. He did not play the first three games against the Mariners this week but started at first base on Thursday night. It didn't go well and he was replaced by Ryan Rua after six innings.

"If there is nothing I can do but come off the bench and pinch-hit, that might be it," Napoli said. "We are going to do what's best for the team."

Banister wanted to give Napoli an opportunity to see if he could play first base down the stretch. Starting at designated hitter is not an option because that's how the Rangers have been fitting Adrian Beltre into the lineup while he is dealing with a strained left hamstring.

"It's more of a hitter off the bench," Banister said. "He could possibly DH if Beltre is not DHing. These guys have given everything they can this year, we wanted to give them every opportunity to go out and perform."

Joey Gallo started at first base on Friday night against the Angels and that could be his everyday position in 2018. Rua could still play there down the stretch against left-handers if the Rangers want to move Gallo to third base.

It's a tough end for Napoli, who returned for his third tour with the Rangers this season after signing a one-year contract in the offseason. He is hitting .193 with 29 home runs, 66 RBIs, a .285 on-base percentage and a .428 slugging percentage. Napoli has had some of his best years previously with the Rangers. This was not one of them.

"I haven't lived up to my expectations," Napoli said. "I came in here looking to contribute on a consistent basis and haven't done that. But I can look in the mirror. I worked every day. Every time I stepped on the field, I played like I always have and played hard. I've been here every day, been in the cage working and trying to get better every day.

"It just hasn't worked out as well as I'd like."

Napoli is again a free agent this offseason but a reunion with the Rangers appears highly unlikely given the club's need to find an anchor position for Gallo.

"I still love this game and enjoy being here," Napoli said. "When the time comes in the offseason, I'll sit and think what is best for me. I don't like jumping the gun. I just go with the flow."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.