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Napoli takes hacks prior to his return

Napoli takes hacks prior to his return

ANAHEIM -- Angels catcher Mike Napoli tested his inflamed right shoulder, taking some swings during batting practice on Friday at Angel Stadium before the Halos faced the Red Sox in the first of three weekend games. It was the first time he has performed baseball activities since going on the disabled list retroactive to July 6.

"Everything felt good," Napoli said. "It was a little sore yesterday, but there was no pain today when I was swinging, and that's a good sign. In a couple more days I'll throw, and we'll see how that goes."

Napoli is eligible to come off the DL when the Indians open a three-game series against the Angels at Angel Stadium on Monday.

The shoulder has troubled him in some fashion, Napoli admitted, all season.

"It's been there since the beginning of the year," he said. "Maybe I did something in the spring and inflamed it. We do a lot of [preparation] before we starting throwing in Spring Training, so I think it's just wear and tear, probably."

The shoulder hasn't bothered him swinging the bat. Unleashing throws has been the issue.

When he went on the DL on Sunday, July 7, there was visible concern in Napoli's eyes. He feared that it was "something serious," but an MRI on July 8 confirmed the original diagnosis of irritation in the shoulder.

"The pain was becoming constant," he said. "That's what concerned me. Before that I was having bad days, then good days."

Napoli had some very good days with the bat, hitting home runs at a higher frequency per at-bat than anyone in the Majors during the first two months of the season while sharing the job with Jeff Mathis.

Napoli is hitting .204 with 12 homers and 29 RBIs in 47 games and 147 at-bats. Mathis started all seven games on the road trip before the All-Star break, with backup Ryan Budde appearing in three games with a sacrifice bunt in his only at-bat.

Mathis, hitting .216 with six homers and 25 RBIs, said the break came at just the right time.

"I was feeling it," he said, grinning. "It was good to get off my feet. I feel a lot better now."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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