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Napoli ready to make Red Sox debut

The SportsXchange

The Red Sox will get their first look at Mike Napoli on Friday when the Boston free-agent acquisition suits up to play first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 31-year-old Napoli said his hips have remained pain-free. He has been taking batting practice and going through defensive drills, but most of his running has been in a pool to lessen the impact on his legs.

"I'm just going to play the game. That's the best way to go at it," Napoli said. "If you start worrying about things, that's when you hurt yourself."

Napoli has been diagnosed with avascular necrosis, which causes bone deterioration due to an interruption of the blood supply. Because of the condition, which was detected during a physical before his free-agent deal became official, Napoli has been held back at spring training.

He completed base-running drills on Wednesday -- one of the final hurdles before he could get back on the playing field.

Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to a one-year deal for $5 million with incentives to earn another $8 million more if he stays healthy based on plate appearances.

He hit .227 with 24 home runs last year for the Texas Rangers. Napoli, who has been a catcher for most of his career, will primarily play first base for the Red Sox.
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