Francisco Cervelli

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Francisco Cervelli
001B4119 Francisco Cervelli.jpg
Cervelli with the Yankees
New York Yankees – No. 29
Catcher
Born: (1986-03-06) March 6, 1986 (age 28)
Valencia, Venezuela
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
September 18, 2008 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
(through 2013 season)
Batting average .271
Home runs 8
Runs batted in 79
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Cervelli playing for Italy national team on March 3, 2009, before World Baseball Classic

Francisco Cervelli (/ɛərˈvɛli/; born March 6, 1986) is an Italo-Venezuelan professional baseball player. A catcher, Cervelli plays in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees. He was an international signee by the Yankees in 2003 and played in the 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Italian national team.

Early life and professional career

Francisco Cervelli was born on March 6, 1986 in Valencia, Venezuela to an Italian immigrant father and a Venezuelan mother. In Venezuela, Cervelli played shortstop, second base, and sometimes pitched. The Yankees signed him as an international free agent with the understanding that he would try catching.1

Minor leagues

Cervelli played in the Dominican Summer League in 2003. He arrived as a switch hitter, but was told to stick to batting right-handed.1

After struggling to adjust to professional baseball in 2004 and 2005, Cervelli batted .309 for the Short Season Single-A Staten Island Yankees in 2006. In 2007, he played for the Tampa Yankees, where he batted .279 with an OBP of .387 and two home runs. Baseball America rated him the 23rd-best prospect on the Yankees prior to the 2008 season. He began the 2009 season with the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

On March 8, 2008, Cervelli fractured his wrist on a controversial play during a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays, when Rays infielder Elliot Johnson collided with him at home plate in the ninth inning. Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager said, "I think it was uncalled for, it's spring training and you are going to get people hurt and we got Cervelli hurt."2 He didn't return to action until June 2008.

New York Yankees (2008-present)

Following the completion of the 2008 minor league season, Cervelli was called up to the Yankees. He made his major league debut on September 18, 2008, as a defensive replacement. He went 0–5 in his brief time in the majors. After starting the 2009 season in the minors, Cervelli was called up by the Yankees on May 5, 2009, when Jorge Posada was placed on the 15-day disabled list, though he was batting only .190, with a .266 on-base percentage and .310 slugging percentage at Double-A Trenton at the time of the call-up, and had not played in Triple-A. He made his first major league start on May 7, after Jose Molina injured his quad. He recorded his first major league hit, a single, on May 8, against the Baltimore Orioles, while also catching for pitcher CC Sabathia during a complete game shutout. Cervelli asserted himself as a reliable defensive catcher for the New York Yankees, and has received substantial praise from his teammates.3 Though Cervelli was sent to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on July 8, 2009 when Jose Molina was activated off of the disabled list, Yankees manager Joe Girardi made clear that he was impressed with Cervelli's performance.4

Cervelli (right) with Dave Eiland (left) and A. J. Burnett (center)

Cervelli, much like former team mate Jorge Posada, does not use batting gloves, being one of the remaining few who do not wear them.5

On June 24, 2009, Cervelli hit his first major league home run against Kris Medlen of the Atlanta Braves, breaking up a no-hitter. On September 16, 2009, Cervelli had his first walk-off hit - a single in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cervelli started the 2010 season on the Yankees' 25-man roster to serve as the backup catcher to Jorge Posada, and served as the Yankees' starting catcher while Posada recovered from a foot injury.6 On March 6, 2010, Cervelli was hit in the head by a pitch. He was removed from the game with a concussion. Shortly after, citing another concussion Cervelli suffered while playing winter ball, the Yankees suggested he begin wearing the Rawlings S-100 protective helmet, a bulkier model made to withstand 100 mph fastballs. This briefly earned him the nickname "Gazoo", a reference to a character in the 1960s 'The Flintstones' TV cartoon.7

In 2011, Cervelli entered spring training as the backup to Russell Martin.8 Cervelli broke his foot in early March, and missed the beginning of the 2011 season.9 On April 29, 2011, the New York Yankees activated Cervelli from the DL, replacing Gustavo Molina who was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.10 On May 8, Cervelli hit his first home run of the season, his first career grand slam in a series tiebreaker on the road against Texas, bringing in Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, and Brett Gardner.11

Cervelli was optioned to Triple-A to begin the 2012 season, with Chris Stewart winning the job as Martin's backup.12 Cervelli admitted that he moped following the demotion, until his parents visited him during the season and refocused him on improving his game.13 The Yankees recalled Cervelli to the majors when rosters expanded on September 1.14

With Martin having signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cervelli became the starting catcher for the Yankees in 2013.13 In a game against the Blue Jays on April 26, Cervelli suffered a fractured right hand after getting hit by a foul tip by outfielder Rajai Davis, he then underwent surgery the next day and was placed on the 60-day disabled list.15 On August 5, 2013, Cervelli was suspended for 50 games after being linked with the Biogenesis scandal.16

International career

Cervelli played for the Italy national baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.17

Personal life

Cervelli is an avid soccer fan, and a supporter of Serie A football club Juventus.18

References

  1. ^ a b "The Cervelli Backstory". Yankees.lhblogs.com. 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  2. ^ King III, George A. (March 9, 2008). "Harmful Rays". New York Post. 
  3. ^ Will the Yankees Have the Courage to Give Francisco Cervelli a Long-Term Shot? Bleacher Report
  4. ^ Marc Carig (July 8, 2009). "With big league time likely coming to end, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli leaves another good impression". Newark Star-Ledger. 
  5. ^ "Gloveless hitters buck the trend". MLB.com. 
  6. ^ Francisco Cervelli Running Out of Gas, Jorge Posada's Return To Help Bleacher Report
  7. ^ Hoch, Bryan (March 11, 2010). "Cervelli gets new helmet, new nickname: Posada calling Rawlings S100-wearing teammate 'Gazoo'". MLB.com. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  8. ^ Ben Shpigel (March 4, 2011). "Cervelli Fractures Foot, Altering Yankees' Plan for Younger Catchers". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  9. ^ Bryan Hoch (April 30, 2011). "Cervelli activated from 15-day disabled list". Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  10. ^ King of the Fist Pumps returns from the DL River Avenue Blues
  11. ^ Hoch, Bryan (May 8, 2011). "Jeter, Cervelli lead Yanks' five-homer barrage: Captain hits two blasts; catcher belts slam in finale win over Texas". MLB.com. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Cervelli: "I don't understand their reason" - The LoHud Yankees Blog". Yankees.lhblogs.com. 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  13. ^ a b Kerasotis, Peter (March 23, 2013). "Demoted Last Season, Cervelli Emerges as Yankees’ Starting Catcher". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Transactions | yankees.com: Team". Newyork.yankees.mlb.com. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  15. ^ "Yankees' Francisco Cervelli Breaks Hand and Ivan Nova Leaves With Elbow Pain". The New York Times. April 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ http://www.lohud.com/article/20130805/SPORTS/308050053/Yankees-catcher-Francisco-Cervelli-2-Mets-minor-leaguers-accept-50-game-bans?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CNews
  17. ^ "Derek Jeter off to World Baseball Classic, Joe Girardi holds breath". New York: NY Daily News. 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  18. ^ Waldstein, David (2011-08-31). "Yankees’ Cervelli Won’t Apologize for Playing His Way - NYTimes.com". Bats.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-04-16. 

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