Napoli determined to 'stick with it' in left field

Napoli determined to 'stick with it' in left field

OAKLAND -- Mike Napoli was at the Coliseum early on Wednesday, getting extensive work in left field under the guidance of field coordinator Jayce Tingler and Minor League coach Justin Mashore.

Napoli wasn't in the starting lineup for Wednesday's 10-3 win in Oakland because starting pitcher Colby Lewis is a "fly ball" pitcher. So manager Jeff Banister went with his best defense and had Drew Stubbs in left field.

But Napoli is still going to play left field when needed. Napoli, who has dropped to two fly balls in his seven games in left, is determined to work at the position and Banister refused to give up on him.

"I'm going to do everything I can to get as much work as I can," Napoli said. "I'm going to stick with it. I just need to be more athletic and more relaxed, do what I'm doing in the pregame and take it into the game. Of course I'm getting anxious. I won't get a ball for awhile and when I get a ball, I'm like bouncing off the wall."

Banister put Napoli in left field to reinforce his offense against left-handed pitching and to get him, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland all in the same lineup. Right now the Rangers are 6-1 in seven games in which Napoli started in left. He had never played the position before this season.

"I have a ton of respect for him," Banister said. "I wouldn't do it if he wasn't in on it. It is a credit to him and what he wants to do for this ballclub. He is a competitor and he has a lot of pride over what he does on the field. I believe he'll figure it out.

"I love the fact the man is bold enough to help his team and is willing to put himself in a place to help his ballclub and put in the work. He is the ultimate team player and that is something that has played well in the clubhouse. It's why this guy is a winning professional player. To me that should be the ultimate sentence to go before your name."

Napoli dropped a fly ball in the bottom of the fifth inning on Tuesday that allowed a run to score and give Oakland a 5-3 lead. Napoli, who had to run far to get to the ball, also tumbled to the ground after missing the catch. But he came up the next inning and reached on an infield single right before Moreland tied the game with a two-run home run.

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"It is embarrassing when a play like that happens," Napoli admitted. "But the way it happened last night, when I came into the dugout, I know my teammates had my back. That made me feel much better. They know they'll get my best out there. Last night Mitch picked me up, which was huge.

"I'll do anything to try and help us win. Even if I'm exposed in left field, I'm going to try and do my best."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, 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.