Francisco Cervelli OK after suffering whiplash in Venezuelan Winter League

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We heard last week that the Yankees are prepared to begin 2013 with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart as their catching duo, so this report from Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York is worth noting.

Francisco Cervelli, who seems to make getting hurt in the off-season or in spring training an annual ritual, suffered a whiplash injury on a foul tip while catching in the Venezuelan Winter League and was flown back to Tampa by the Yankees last week for an examination.

Cervelli underwent an MRI in Venezuela which came back clean, but the Yankees wanted to take a look at him, likely due to his lengthy concussion history. The good news is that it doesn’t appear to be serious, as Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said they were just being “overly cautious” and that he’s going back to Venezuela to finish the season. He should be fine for spring training.

Cervelli spent most of last season with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. The 26-year-old backstop owns a .271/.339/.353 batting line in the majors.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.