Cervelli injures foot, undergoes inconclusive MRI

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Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli was lifted prematurely from Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game against the Astros after fouling a ball off his left foot. Trainers immediately took him for an MRI to make sure that he suffered no structural damage, but the results came out inconclusive.

According to Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal, they plan to try again Thursday morning after some of the inflammation leaves his foot.

Cervelli, 24, batted .271 with a decent .359 on-base percentage over 317 plate appearances last season. He hit no homers and will never be a big-fly kind of player, but he has some value as a backup.

The Yanks are planning to use him behind Russell Martin to start the 2011 season. Top catching prospect Jesus Montero will probably do a little more marinating at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a few months and then bump Cervelli to the minors once he proves ready.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.