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No agreement between Napoli, Red Sox

Boston Herald

January 09. 2013 10:12PM

Mike Napoli is running out of places to play, and the Red Sox are running out of players with which to replace him. At some point, the sides should reach an agreement, but that day wasn't Wednesday.

Napoli has remained unsigned since agreeing in principle to a three-year, $39 million deal on Dec. 3 at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. Two introductory press conferences were canceled, and word soon leaked that Napoli's physical had revealed a hip issue.

Details then get murky, but what we do know is that Napoli - who technically remains a free agent - hasn't been linked to any other teams, nor have the Red Sox been strongly associated with any other first basemen.

One player who drew tangential interest signed yesterday. Gold Glover Adam LaRoche agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal to return to the Nationals. The Red Sox had expressed some interest in LaRoche, but did not want to part with their second-round pick to sign him, which they would've had to do, since he had received a qualifying offer of roughly $13.3 million from Washington.

LaRoche wasn't a perfect fit here for other reasons. The left-handed hitter did not project to produce as much power in Fenway Park as the right-handed Napoli, and at age 33, he's two years older, though he's proven to be far more durable.

Team officials were once again mum on Napoli's status yesterday. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, one potential trade target, ironically enough, could be Nationals first baseman/outfielder Mike Morse, who was made expendable by the LaRoche signing.

Like Napoli, however, Morse is a right-handed hitter, so it's unlikely the Red Sox would acquire both of them.

Bullish on bullpen

New closer Joel Hanrahan got his first look at Fenway Park yesterday, touring the park before meeting the media.

Despite being a big leaguer since 2007, the former National Leaguer counts Fenway as one of four AL parks he has never played in (Anaheim, Minnesota, and Chicago are the others). Needless to say, that will change in April.

"I thought this place was amazing," Hanrahan said. "A lot bigger than I thought it was. Obviously, a ton of history here. I got to go up on the top of the Monster and see what it's like from that angle. I know my wife is going to be begging me to sit out there one day. But it looked great. I got to go in the clubhouse for the first time and see where my new office is. I'm excited. It looks great."

Hanrahan, who was acquired from the Pirates on Dec. 26 for a package that included reliever Mark Melancon, can't wait to feel the adrenaline of a Fenway crowd.

"Any baseball fan wants this chance to play here," he said. "They want a chance to play in that other place in New York. As a baseball player and a fan, you want to experience that, and I'm excited to get that feeling every day this year."

Hanrahan has not spoken to former closer Andrew Bailey yet, but he did touch base with Bailey's former teammate Brandon McCarthy for a scouting report.

"(McCarthy) said he's going to be a great guy," Hanrahan said. "He thinks we'll get along great. All you can do is root for each other to have success and pull for the team. He was in a tough spot. Any time you injure your hand in spring training, that's not fun, especially coming over to a new team. I'm sure he's got a lot to prove this year."

Hanrahan's equally excited about the bullpen as a whole, noting that on the flight out, he saw an MLB Network special ranking baseball's top five bullpens, which didn't include the Red Sox.

"We'll have to work our way onto it," Hanrahan said. "I think we belong there.

"I was looking at it. Andrew Miller's been a guy that's always been one to watch for and see what he's going to do. I remember watching him as a starter coming up through Florida. He's got a big arm. (Franklin) Morales has another big arm. I feel like (Craig) Breslow's been getting people out for 12 years now. (Koji) Uehara's had a great career. Andrew Bailey, if he comes back healthy, I think he's got a lot to prove this year. He's going to be coming back strong. I'm not sure what the plans are with (Daniel) Bard, but that's another big arm down there."

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