Rangers to face hot-hitting Napoli during weekend series

Rangers to face hot-hitting Napoli during weekend series

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have a three-game series with the Red Sox starting on Friday at the Ballpark in Arlington and that means another reunion with a former teammate. Mike Napoli is coming to town, and he is swinging a hot bat.

Left-hander Derek Holland will get the first crack when he starts on Friday night. Napoli is 3-for-6 with a home run in his career against Holland.

"I have been joking around with him about it," Holland said. "We've been texting back and forth. I miss him as a teammate, but now he's on the other side, so who cares about him?"

Napoli, who signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in the offseason, went into Thursday's game with the Blue Jays hitting .287 with a .342 on-base percentage and a .602 slugging percentage. In 27 games and 108 at-bats, he has 14 doubles, six home runs and 31 RBIs. He was leading the American League in doubles, extra-base hits and RBIs.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said Napoli is healthy again, he is taking advantage of the dimensions of Fenway Park that favor right-handed hitters and he is also hitting the ball to the opposite field again.

"You look at the configuration of that ballpark, he has hit a ton of balls that have been off the [left-field] wall or over the wall that didn't do anything here," Washington said. "He's comfortable. He never got comfortable here last year. I don't know if it was all the injuries, but he's certainly healthy again.

"He's also hitting to the opposite field. The year before, when he had that big year for us, he was hitting the ball all over the place. Last year he just couldn't go the opposite way. The Red Sox knew what they were doing. Even when he was struggling he hit the ball well [at Fenway]."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.