GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The party is back on -- even though we know there will likely be an early curfew.
On Wednesday, the Cleveland Indians officially announced the signing of veteran free agent Mike Napoli to a minor league contract, a day after the addition of the veteran first baseman was first reported, pending a physical. The 36-year-old's locker at the Indians' spring training practice facility in Goodyear, Ariz. has already been set up and contains his new No. 32 jersey and bats with his signature "Party at Napoli's" stickers dotting the knobs.
Napoli's second stint with the Tribe, however, is not expected to be a long one. On Tuesday, Indians manager Terry Francona said the signing was done out of respect to Napoli, who had served as a key piece on and off the field in Cleveland in 2016 during the Indians' run to the 2016 World Series.
After being bought out from the second year of his deal by the Texas Rangers, Napoli had remained un-signed and was most recently practicing at a camp in Bradenton, Fla. with other free agents. According to Francona, both first baseman Yonder Alonso and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion have been assured their jobs are safe and barring injury, there likely won't be an Opening Day roster spot in Cleveland for Napoli, who batted a career-low .193 in 2017.
"If we end up helping him out, then we did a good thing. Because if anybody deserves it, it's Nap," Francona said. "But realistically, we might be getting him ready to come back and try to beat us."
But while the former All-Star's second stint with the Indians will likely be short, Napoli's return has already been well-received in the Cleveland clubhouse, where several of his once-former teammates are well aware of what his re-addition can bring.
"He can do a lot. He can continue to help us grow," 2-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor told WKYC on Wednesday. "His experience in the postseason and in the big leagues is tremendous. He can contribute in that sense. And he can contribute on the field -- we all know that."
Napoli will meet with members of the media in Goodyear at 9 a.m. MST on Wednesday. Keep it locked on WKYC.com for all the latest following his first availability since rejoining the Tribe.