Apologies if you came here looking for serious content with more than a tiny grain of insight, because you’re not going to find it. Not unless you’re able to harness the precognitive powers of the most glorious beard a Cubs coach has cultivated in, well, forever. You almost can’t recognize Mike Napoli beneath the heavy blanket of facial fleece he’s probably been growing since retirement — not to mention it’s one of the rare occasions on which he’s wearing a shirt — but the new quality assurance coach is impossible to miss at camp.
That title is somewhat amorphous on purpose, since Napoli doesn’t really have a rigid set of guidelines in his job description. While he’ll obviously be working on the offensive side of things, a lot of what he’s bringing to the team is just that grindy-baseball-dude mentality with which he played during his career. Sound kind of cheesy and weird? Yeah, but no more so than any of the other buzzwords the Cubs have attempted to re-assimilate into the clubhouse over the last few years.
According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs had actually pursued Napoli last winter, but he had only just retired as a player and preferred to spend a little time away from the game. He’s familiar with both David Ross and the front office from his Red Sox days and now assumes a position that requires little other than sort of acting as a reagent for the clubhouse chemistry Ross hopes to create.
And if all else fails, the beard will command respect from all those in its immediate gravitational pull.