5/3/2013 7:50 P.M. ET
Napoli enjoys return to Rangers Ballpark
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli was busy before Friday night's game with the Rangers, talking with the media and saying hello to his many former teammates. However, Napoli said it will be business as usual once the game starts during the three-game series this weekend.
Napoli spent two years with the Rangers before signing with the Red Sox in the offseason.
"I don't think it's too weird," Napoli said while sitting in the Red Sox's dugout. "I've been here on the visiting side before. I've got a lot of good friends over there. I think it's going to be fun to compete against them. I think it's going to be a fun series. You've got two good teams going at it and we'll see what happens.
"I had two great years here, a lot of moments I'll never forget. It's going to be fun. I'm happy to still be playing baseball. I'm going to enjoy it and take it all in."
Napoli left as a free agent after the Rangers declined to make a qualifying offer. He agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox, but the deal was voided when the required physical examination found Napoli was dealing with a degenerative hip issue.
He later signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Red Sox, but there was also some consideration about re-signing with the Rangers. The biggest thing with the Red Sox was getting a chance to play first base and not have to catch anymore. He has thrived under those conditions and was hitting .283 with six home runs and an American League-leading 31 RBIs going into Friday's game.
"Yeah, it was basically down to here or Boston," Napoli said. "It was just an opportunity I had here to play first every day, not be behind the plate and take the grind, still wasn't really sure how my hips were going to respond. I thought it was the best fit for me in my career and health-wise.
"It feels good. I'm playing some good baseball right now and I'm just going to try and maintain it. My body feels better not being behind the plate. Hopefully that helps out and I don't wear down."
Murphy eager to get back in the lineup
ARLINGTON -- The Red Sox are starting right-hander John Lackey against the Rangers on Saturday, and it will be a chance for David Murphy, who has not started in the past four games with a left-hander on the mound for the opposition, to get back in the lineup.
Manager Ron Washington has been using the right-handed-hitting Jeff Baker in left field against left-handers.
"People talk about going well and sitting on your numbers," Murphy said. "My numbers aren't something you want to sit on, but I'm using this as an opportunity to take a break mentally and physically and get ready for the next stretch."
Murphy went into Friday's game against the Red Sox hitting .174 with two home runs and seven RBIs. He is also 1-for-15 in his last seven games.
"It's getting to the point where you just have to laugh about it," Murphy said. "It has been a rough stretch. It's not a secret that I play better later in the season than I do early in the season, but that's not an excuse. I expected to get off to a good start. It hasn't happened, but I'm not going to dwell on it. I'm going to focus on how well the team is playing, try to figure things out and find a way to contribute to the team."
Magadan confident hitters will turn things around
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers went into Friday's game with the Red Sox hitting .247 with runners in scoring position, ninth highest in the American League. The season is only 28 games old, but a .247 batting average with runners in scoring position would be the second lowest in club history.
The Rangers hit .243 in those situations in 1983. Hitting with runners in scoring position was a topic of discussion during a meeting that batting coach Dave Magadan held with his hitters before Thursday's game against the White Sox.
"We're not doing a very good job with guys on base," Magadan said. "We're getting guys on, but we've got guys pressing with men on base. We had a meeting about it. It didn't pay off right away, but I think we're all on the same page. We have to have a pass-the-baton mentality. 'Don't feel you have to be the guy that does it.'
"If you don't get a good pitch to hit, have confidence that the guy behind you will get it done. It's a work in progress. We've got a lot of confidence in our guys. We just need to get them to relax and let their talent rise to the top."
Thursday's meeting didn't have the immediate results. The Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in a 3-1 loss to the White Sox. However, there were three walks in those situations, including two by Lance Berkman, and Magadan thought he saw the club taking a little better approach.
The Rangers had just two walks with runners in scoring position in their previous six games. In four games in Minnesota, the Rangers were 4-for-32 with just one walk with runners in scoring position.
"Last night not where we want to be, but it was a little better," Magadan said. "Our approach in Minnesota was really below our standards."
Rangers to face former hurler Monday at Wrigley
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have three games against Mike Napoli over the weekend and will face another former teammate on Monday. Scott Feldman will be pitching for the Cubs on Monday when they play a makeup game against the Rangers at Wrigley Field. Feldman pitched for the Rangers from 2005-12.
"I've seen a lot of those guys for a lot of years, and they've seen me for a lot of years, so it's not going to be a big thing of trying to trick everybody," Feldman told MLB.Com writer Carrie Muskat. "I'll take some of the stuff I've remembered over the years, and look at video from what they've done recently because guys make adjustments all the time."
Feldman, who threw his first career complete game in his last start, was supposed to pitch in a three-game series against the Rangers two weeks ago, but he was scratched because of tightness in his back. The game on April 17 was rained out, so Feldman will get a chance to pitch against his former team.
"I wanted to pitch against them last time and I had the thing flare up with my back," Feldman said. "I'll try not to make it anything that it's not and treat it like another game. It'll be kind of weird pitching against them. Hopefully I can pitch a good game and we can beat them."
• The Rangers have released Minor League catcher Vinny DiFazio and outfielder Rashad Harlin.
• Washington is concerned about his offense.
"We have guys with track records and that will come into play soon," said Washington. "We just need a base hit at the right time. We haven't found the right guy to get that hit, but it will come. What you saw [in a 3-1 loss to the White Sox on Thursday] is not going to be a constant. We are going to figure it out and be more consistent. We just have to keep pecking away."
• The Rangers, going into Friday's game, had scored a combined 23 runs in the first three innings over 28 games. That was the lowest figure in the AL. They had scored 63 runs in the fourth through six innings, second most in the league.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.