Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli survived a scary moment during the fourth inning of Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Dodgers. With two outs and a runner on second, Joc Pederson lifted a pitch to center field for the inning-ending out, but splintered his bat in the process and caught Cervelli’s helmet on the backswing.
In the bottom of the inning, Cervelli stepped up to the plate as if to take his next at-bat, but ultimately decided to remove himself from the game and was replaced by pinch-hitter Elias Díaz. Díaz doubled off of a Hyun-Jin Ryu changeup, then remained in the game to cover for Cervelli behind the dish. Reports cited “concussion-like symptoms” as the official reason for the catcher’s removal, and on Sunday, the Pirates placed Cervelli on the official 7-day concussion IL and recalled outfielder José Osuna from Triple-A Indianapolis in a corresponding move.
Saturday’s incident marked the continuation of an alarming trend for the 33-year-old, who has seen more than his fair share of concussions and concussion-like injuries during the span of his 12-year career in the majors. He missed nearly a month of the 2018 season after taking a foul tip off of his facemask; prior to that, he was diagnosed with four separate concussions from 2009 through 2017.
While it’s certainly plausible that Cervelli will make it back into the lineup before too long, no one could fault the Pirates for erring on the side of caution here. He’s expected to cede his missed starts to Díaz, who remains the only viable catching option on the 40-man roster at present.