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Napoli set for Red Sox debut on Friday


BRADENTON, Fla. -- All systems are go for new Red Sox slugger Mike Napoli to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday night against the Pirates.

After weeks of talking about his hip condition (avascular necrosis), Napoli looks forward to getting on the field and proving that the injury won't be an issue.

"Just play the game," Napoli said. "That's the best way to go at it. That's the way I've always done it. I'm just going to play the game and let things happen. When you start worrying about things like, 'I can't slide, I shouldn't slide,' that's when you get in between and hurt yourself."

Napoli is making the transition to full-time first baseman this season after serving as primarily a catcher during his career.

He has had plenty of tutorials this spring with infield instructor Brian Butterfield.

"I feel a lot more comfortable over there, especially turning the double play, where my feet should be, where I should be taking the ball and receiving the ball," said Napoli. "It's been going [well]."

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