Sunday, March 7, 2010

NY Yankees hope Francisco Cervelli's surprising season was more than a fluke

Two years ago, Cervelli broke his wrist in an infamous home plate collision in spring training that delayed his development as a hitter. Last November, he suffered a concussion playing winter ball when the backswing of a bat hit a spot on his head about three inches above his left ear.

And Saturday, he suffered another concussion that will sideline him for at least a few days when he was hit by a fastball on that exact same spot above his ear. His latest bad break came on his 24th birthday.


As they did with Molina, the Yankees view Cervelli strictly as a defensive specialist. Any offensive contribution is a bonus. And if Posada catches between 100 to 120 games, which is Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s stated goal, Cervelli’s bat will be as much of a non-issue as Mariano Rivera’s pitch selection.

But if Posada is sidelined for any significant period with injuries — the 38-year-old battled hamstring issues last season — the Yankees could find themselves leaning on a player whose line-drive rate went from 12.7 percent in the minors to an inexplicable 20.5 in the big leagues.

It doesn't sound like his recent injury is too serious, although concussions are never really "minor". Cervelli was one of the unexpected fun parts of last season's run. He's probably not likely to repeat his performance from last year. But he's sure to get a chance to try with a 38 year old catcher starting in front of him.

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