Mike Napoli is cleared to play, Ryan Kalish is healing, and more on just where Jackie Bradley belongs in 2013
Mike Napoli went from being entirely shut down to participating in various drills, and now, after the latest batch, he's been determined to be game-ready. Napoli was scheduled to play in Friday's contest as the first baseman for a few innings, and now, with no complications from his hip stemming from drills and workouts, it's been determined that he'll be on an every other day schedule, with the team adding on based on how he feels.
The timing couldn't be better for those who are baseball-starved, as Friday night's split-squad contest against the Pirates -- in which Napoli will be playing -- will be broadcast on mlb.tv. The 7:05 game is the last to be shown on the day, so if you want to spend your Friday night with an exhibition game in order to see two Mike Napoli at-bats, by all means.
If, however, you don't care that much about Napoli, but need a quick dose of real/fake ball, the Sox are taking on the Orioles in a split-squad match-up on mlb.tv and NESN tonight. Lineups have already been published by Ben Buchanan, even, so consider that your preview.
It's kind of disheartening to talk about Ryan Kalish in too much detail at this point -- you can tell the dude is bummed about his situation, and just wants to play baseball somewhere, anywhere, without injury concerns. With that in mind:
Ryan Kalish just told me he's done with sling on right arm. Progress. #RedSoxTalk— Maureen Mullen (@MaureenaMullen) February 27, 2013
Baby steps! Kalish is on the 60-day disabled list at the moment, and isn't expected back for quite some time in 2013, if at all. Hopefully, when all of this is over, it's the last surgery he'll need and he'll be able to move forward with a career that's been far too delayed.
Tuesday was basically Jackie Bradley day. We discussed whether or not a huge spring could propel him to Pawtucket, rather than a return to Double-A Portland, and manager John Farrell went so far as to not rule out Bradley for the Opening Day roster. Not ruling him out isn't the same as saying he's likely or going to make it, however, and Alex Speier has a breakdown on all the reasons you can expect Bradley to start the season in the minors. Be sure to digest the entirety of Speier's work, but consider this sample platter:
- There is no obvious 40-man spot for him at the moment
- Waiting a couple of months would delay his arbitration status, though, as Speier notes, the Red Sox can afford (and have already pushed past that) with other notable prospects, most recently Will Middlebrooks.
- Waiting a few weeks, however, will delay his service time in such a way that he becomes a free agent after 2019 rather than 2018. That is significant, and would be worth an April full of Ryan Sweeney or whomever in the long run.
- Success at Double-A doesn't necessarily mean he's ready for the leap quite yet, anyway.
Speier covers much more, including the history of comparable prospects to Bradley and how the Sox have handled them in similar situations over the years. The conclusion is essentially what we came to as well: Bradley could come up for Opening Day, but there's no reason to force the issue.