Napoli puts pink bat to good use
Angels catcher hits a homer with commemorative lumber
ARLINGTON -- As he began to get a feel for the pink bats that had been dropped off at his locker for use on Mother's Day, Mike Napoli was told that a few hitters liked them so much last year that they continued to wield them after the show of support across Major League Baseball for breast cancer awareness."Hey, if I get a knock or two," Napoli said grinning, "maybe that'll be me." Napoli crushed his second homer of the season with his pink Louisville Slugger on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, a tremendous drive to right-center field in the fourth inning against Texas right-hander Mike Wood. Right before Napoli's long ball, teammate Shea Hillenbrand used his pink bat to unload his first homer of the season. Those fireworks, and two homers by center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., were matched and bettered by the Rangers, who used four homers, including a walk-off blast by Nelson Cruz to nail down a 7-6 win. Napoli, who also lined a single with his commemorative bat, said it was being shipped to his mother, Donna, in Florida. She planned to present it to one of her best friends, a cancer patient. "The home run was for my mom on Mother's Day," Napoli said. "The bat is for her friend." Along with Napoli and Hillenbrand, three other Angels -- Reggie Willits, Casey Kotchman and Erick Aybar -- carried pink lumber to the plate. The five Angels were a combined 7-for-23 (.304). Kotchman, the first baseman, had three singles in five at-bats. Napoli was 2-for-4, and Hillenbrand went 1-for-5. Willits, the leadoff man, singled and walked in five plate appearances. Aybar was 0-for-5. "It felt the same to me -- just a different color," Willits said. "I'm happy we were able to do our part for a great cause. My mom, Judy, gets my bat." All eight Angels position players wore pink sweatbands on either their wrists or forearms. Along with autographed pink bats, a home plate bearing signatures of the players would be contributed to the effort, with proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. More than 200 players signed up to use a pink Louisville Slugger bat on Sunday, more than twice the participation in 2006.
Select game-used bats, as well as team-autographed bats from every club, will be auctioned on MLB.com at a later date in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans also can purchase their own personalized pink bat at MLB.com, or www.slugger.com, with Major League Baseball donating $10 from the sale of each bat to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.The breast cancer awareness theme was carried throughout the game, including pink ribbon logos on the bases, commemorative home plates and pink dugout lineup cards. Team-autographed commemorative home plates, pink bats and lineup cards from each ballpark also will be auctioned off on MLB.com at a later date, with proceeds to raise additional funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.