By JOSE M. ROMERO, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — Before Mike Napoli ships off to Triple-A Columbus to open the season, the veteran slugger left a parting impression with the Cleveland Indians.
Napoli homered in Cleveland’s exhibition finale Tuesday, a 3-3 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 12-year major league veteran was informed during spring training he wouldn’t crack the Indians’ opening day roster and has accepted a minor league assignment. He was signed to a minor league deal in February.
“He had two good swings,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I think Nap’s in a good place. He handled it like we knew he would. It was a pleasure having him around. You never know. He’s certainly well thought of around here.”
Napoli, 36, has 267 home runs and a .246 average in the majors. He became a fan favorite in Cleveland during their run to the World Series in 2016, with fans wearing “Party at Napoli’s” T-shirts.
“He’s accomplished so much. If he goes down to Triple-A for a while, I think he’s going to enjoy himself,” Francona said. “I think he’s in a great frame of mind. I know he will be good for the guys that are there.”
Trevor Bauer, who will start the third game of the regular season Sunday at Seattle, struck out seven over five innings of three-hit ball.
“I told him that he’s situated to have a good year. He’s healthy. He feels good about himself. He’s had a good spring,” Francona said.
Napoli hit a solo drive in the sixth against Fernando Salas. Mark Mathias hit a solo homer one inning later off Jorge De La Rosa.
Bauer, a former Diamondback, gave up one run. Top setup man Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen pitched scoreless innings.
Diamondbacks starter Taijuan Walker allowed one run and four hits in his five innings of work. He is in line to start either the fourth or fifth game of the regular season, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Walker could start in the opening series, against the Colorado Rockies, if ace Zack Greinke’s previously troublesome groin is still an issue.
“Taijuan did a nice job. Very thorough, aggressive fastball,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovulloo said. “Everything’s in the can. We’re ready to go, and we’re going to be as ready as we possibly can be on Thursday.”
Indians: 3B Jose Ramirez left after the first inning with a cut on his left middle finger. “Ramirez was reaching in the bat rack and caught his finger nail on a piece of metal,” Francona said. “It just cut him. He’s fine. We just couldn’t stop the bleeding.” … OF Brandon Guyer, who underwent rib surgery last October, will be ready for opening day after being evaluated Tuesday. … OF Michael Brantley will play in minor league games until that camp breaks Saturday. He will start the season on the disabled list following offseason ankle surgery.
Diamondbacks: OF Steven Souza Jr. will open the season on the 10-day disabled list with a pectoral strain. … RHP Randall Delgado (strained left oblique) was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, as was Shelby Miller, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber starts Thursday’s opener at Seattle.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin will be on the mound Thursday against visiting Colorado.
AP freelancer Gary Schatz contributed to this story.
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