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Starter: Mike Napoli
Alternative(s): Mauro Gomez, Mark Hamilton, Daniel Nava
This is admittedly the position where the Sox' depth is most lacking, a considerable issue given that -- even though his avascular necrosis has yet to present symptoms -- there are questions about Napoli's ability to play a full season.
The Sox recognize that reality, which is why they're still likely to add another player capable of serving as a fallback at that position.
"The one area that we probably need to get a feel for is at first base," said manager John Farrell. "We fully expect Napoli to be ready to go, but if a need were to arise at that position, I think we'll probably have some additions before camp opens up in that area, so that there will be protection provided at first base."
Hamilton has struggled in a very small sample of big league at-bats, hitting .197/.258/.246/.503 in 66 plate appearances in 2010-11. However, he's shown a good approach and some pop in the minors (an average of 24 homers per 162 games along with a .277/.364/.468/.832 line).
Still, the Sox would seemingly like more options at first base. The team does plan to have switch-hitter Daniel Nava get some work at first in the spring, though it remains to be seen how he will take to the position.
WEEI: How deep are the Sox?
First off, you should read the roster breakdown by Speier. Or anything else he writes because he's so damn good. Second, this isn't a surprise that we need a back up plan in case Napoli goes down or at the very least a defensive specalist to take over late when the Sox are ahead. The issue is that the market is dwindling and with who's still available, I don't think would mesh well with the Sox. Aubrey Huff? Casey Kotchman? No thanks.
What surprises me is that no one has given thought to the idea of Jarrod Saltalamacchia being the emergency first baseman should Napoli's hip betray him. While he did admit he's best when playing as a catcher, he's the ideal Plan B.
He's done it before when he was in Texas in a similarly overcrowded catching platoon like the one he's currently in. He's would make the most sense as he's not that much of a drop off offensively (cue Nick Cafardo mumbling about catchers who hit 25 home runs) and defensively it's not like he's replacing Adrian Gonzalez out there (cue Scott crying and looking at his A-Gon action figure). Hell, this could be why Salty hasn't been shipped out of town yet.
It makes enough sense to at least get him prepped just in case we do need to break the glass when the emergency arises.