CLEVELAND -- Throughout his 10-year career in Major League Baseball, Cleveland Indians infielder/designated hitter Mike Napoli has learned how to handle many different situations, but when it comes to the postseason, his best advice to teammates who have not made the playoffs before is simple.
In order to succeed, you have to avoid getting wrapped up in the moment.
“It’s all about slowing the game down,” Napoli said. “That’s what I try to tell the young guys. When things are getting crazy or speeding up, you’ve just got to step back, slow it down and get back to who you are. That’s what I do. Anytime there’s a big-time moment, take a deep breath, slow it down and try to execute a plan.”
Heading into the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, Napoli utilized his previous 51 postseason games of experience, and despite getting two hits in 12 at-bats, he overcame four strikeouts to deliver a double and steal a base in a sweep of his former team.
“I’ve been through the situations enough to be able to have a routine with it, but it’s all about getting that experience and going through it,” Napoli said. “I think we did a good job this last series, especially that last game because there were some pretty close moments and it was unbelievably loud. For us to keep our composure and stick with it says a lot.”
By following his own advice and routine, Napoli helped lead the Indians to the American League Championship Series for the first time in nine years.
The Indians earned the berth into the ALCS by finishing off the sweep of the Red Sox in the best-of-five matchup with a 4-3 win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park Monday night. With the win over Boston, the Indians will face off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS, starting with Game 1 at Progressive Field tonight.
“It helps,” Napoli said of the four-day break in-between games. “This time of the year, any rest you can get is nice. We’re coming here, working out and sticking to our routines, so it’s not like we’re not doing anything. We’re still doing baseball things to stay fresh.
“I don’t think the layoff’s anything crazy. I think it helps, to tell the truth. Yeah, you want to be in that same routine and playing every day, but it’s not going to do anything. We’re both going to have plans against each other, and we’re going to try to execute them and win a ballgame.”