First baseman Mike Napoli suffered a “significant” knee injury while playing for the Indians’ Triple-A team in Columbus on Tuesday night, Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters Wednesday including Zack Meisel of The Athletic.
Francona said the organization is still waiting on the full details of Napoli’s injury. Napoli suffered the injury while going after a foul ball early in the Columbus Clippers’ game, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.
However, Francona did add that this injury could possibly be a career-ending one for Napoli, saying the following to Meisel:
Francona: "I believe things happen for a reason. Who knows, maybe this now starts him on a second journey in his career. I’m not speaking for him. That’s not fair. But that’s what I hope. He was an impact player. My guess is he’ll impact the game doing something else now."— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) April 18, 2018
The 36-year-old Napoli returned to the Indians on a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training after a year in Texas that served as his third stint with the Rangers. Before playing for the Rangers, the slugger made his impact felt for the Indians in 2016, slashing .239/.335/.465 with 34 home runs and 101 RBI while being an essential clubhouse leader for the Tribe during their run to the World Series, where they fell to the Cubs in seven games.
Napoli, who hit just .193/.285/.428 but had 29 homers in 124 games with Texas, was trying to crack the big league roster and hope to provide depth behind first baseman Yonder Alonso and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion in Cleveland, potentially giving the Indians a power bat off the bench if he made the club. However, he was only 1-for-24 at the plate for Columbus.