A baseball player would sign for a 4-4 day in a heartbeat. Francisco Cervelli is 4-4. However, his 4-4 is not what a player battling for a roster spot on this team needs to endure. Cervelli has been to four Spring Training camps, and for four straight seasons something has slowed him down.
In 2008, he broke his wrist on a play at the plate; pneumonia slowed him down in 2009; in 2010 he suffered a concussion after being drilled in the head with a pitch; and his latest spring disappointment, fouling a ball off of his foot and breaking it. This latest time was the worst time for something like this to happen. The incumbent backup catcher was in a battle for the job this year with up-and-comers Austin Romine and Jesus Montero. Now, with the seasoned Cervelli out of the mix, it’s open season for the youngsters.
Romine will get some time today as a backup backstop to Montero against the Nationals. Jack Curry told us in yesterday’s Diamond Daily that Joe Girardi said Romine and Montero are still battling for the job. Girardi himself made the jump from Double-A to the Majors and likes both youngsters.
Cervelli walked into the clubhouse this morning with the help of crutches. He had a boot on his broken left foot, but even though his situation seems bleak, he was still flashing that smile that seems to be on his face at all times. A perma-grin, if you will. That’s permanent grin to you and me.
The soon-to-be 25-year-old (his birthday is tomorrow) was saddened when he heard the news yesterday but was nothing but positive this morning when he met the media. He will meet with the doctor tomorrow and will know more about the injury in about two weeks. He didn’t know how long it would take him to get back after the boot comes off, but while it’s on he said he will still be working on his upper body. He will be at the ballpark everyday. He also said he was going to throw.
One reporter quipped, “You can throw with that thing?” Cervelli replied, “I don’t know, but I’ll find a way.” He was also asked if he thought his job was going to be there when he got back. His answer, “I hope. I’ll fight again. That’s it. This is me. I have to fight every year for something. I’m not going to cry if somebody takes my job. I’m just going to charge back.” (Note: As I am writing this part of the story, “The Boss’s” sound system starts blaring Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Just thought it was worth mentioning.)
Cervelli is also benefitting from having his family here. He talked to his mother when he received the news yesterday. He has a support group to get him through, which will make the mental process of this latest setback a little easier to bear, but as far as being able to compete for the backup job? That is over, for now. There is no doubt, though, that Cervelli will work as hard as he did in the offseason to try to get back to the Bronx this season.
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