Francisco Cervelli suffers concussion setback, unlikely to return for playoffs

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It sounds like the Yankees will be without Francisco Cervelli for the opening round of the playoffs and possibly the entire postseason after the backup catcher suffered a setback in his recovery from a concussion.

“He threw and did some catching stuff, and some of the symptoms came back,” manager Joe Girardi told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “The health is always the biggest issue, more than any postseason. We’ve got to get this kid healthy.”

Cervelli hasn’t played since suffering the concussion on September 8 following a collision at the plate with Nick Markakis of the Orioles, which means Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero will be on the postseason roster as backups for everyday catcher Russell Martin.

Prior to the concussion Cervelli hit .266 with a career-high .719 OPS in 43 games, serving as one of baseball’s top backups for the third straight season.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?