Francisco Cervelli wants to keep catching

Francisco Cervelli
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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli walked back some of the comments he made last week after posting a lengthy caption on Instagram. “Saying that I quit from my catcher responsibilities is inaccurate,” he wrote. “My hope is to catch again.”

Cervelli went on to explain that while he’s concerned about his health and recovery from multiple concussions, he’s not ready to call it quits anytime soon, either:

Not being in the catcher spot right now is part of the process of recovery from several concussions that have forced me to stop and think about my health beyond my baseball years, that have made me reflect on my health and my life in general and how my decisions affect other people that want the best for me in the long run.

I keep working hard, there’s no other way for me to do things. I love baseball but I also have to take care of myself. I want to take care of myself and have quality of life now and hopefully from many more years.

This requires to reinvent myself, have patience and keep working. In other words, to my fans, rest assured that I am working hard on my recovery and I will come back with more strength and the same passion I have always had for this sport. That, I can assure you: I have nothing other than passion, gratitude and love for what I do, for this sport.

This isn’t just a job for me. This is part of my life and I can’t live my life without injecting passion and energy, heart and mind into what I do, whatever that is.

That certainly wasn’t the tune the 33-year-old backstop was singing last Sunday, when he revealed to Dejan Kovacevic of DK Pittsburgh Sports that he was having doubts about his ability to continue catching in light of the six concussions he’s weathered over the last decade.

It’s not clear what changed over the last five days—whether he felt his quotes were taken out of context, whether the club exerted pressure on him to push a more positive narrative, or whether he had a genuine change of heart—but Cervelli seems intent on extending his time in the majors. He remains on the 10-day injured list following his most recent concussion, however, with no set return date and a murky future with the Pirates beyond 2019.

Right now, the club looks pretty content with their talented catching duo of Elias Díaz and Jacob Stallings, and finding a spot for Cervelli may not be feasible if/when he works his way back up to full health later this year. It’s possible that he could secure a minor league gig when he hits free agency this fall, but regardless of personal inclination toward or away from catching, his days behind the plate may already be numbered.

Zack Britton’s season over, TJ surgery comeback out of time

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Zack Britton‘s season is over, his comeback from Tommy John surgery cut short after just three relief appearances for the New York Yankees.

New York put the 34-year-old left-hander on the 60-day injured list and selected the contract of right-hander Jacob Barnes from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Britton was removed after throwing a tiebreaking wild pitch in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore, an outing that lasted just nine pitches. The two-time All-Star had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 8, 2021, and made eight minor league injury rehabilitation appearances starting Aug. 24 and three big league appearances beginning Sept. 24. He threw 36 pitches to nine batters with a 13.50 ERA, six walks and one strikeout.

“Kind of running out of time here and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things, you don’t want to power through that and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton had hoped to be able to help the Yankees in the postseason. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

“It’s just that final sharpness,” Boone said. “At this point in the season, just kind of up against it there. But he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”

Barnes, 32, started the season with Detroit and was released on June 18 after going 3-1 with a 6.10 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He struck out 10 and walked nine in 20 2/3 innings.

Barnes signed a minor league contract with Seattle, made four relief appearances for Triple-A Tacoma, then was brought up by the Mariners and designated for assignment two days later without playing in a game. He refused an outright assignment, signed back with the Tigers and made five appearances at Triple-A Toledo. Released by the Mud Hens, he signed with Scranton on Aug. 30 and had a 2.25 ERA in 10 games for the RailRiders.

Boone said reliever Clay Holmes will not go on the IL after receiving a cortisone injection for inflammation in his right rotator cuff. If the Yankees had put Holmes on the IL, he would not be available for the Division Series.

After playing his first game since Sept. 4 and going 0 for 3, DJ LeMahieu said his injured right second toe felt fine. He is in a 2-for-41 slide.

“It felt good to play again,” LeMahieu said. “I felt like a baseball player.”

Matt Carpenter, sidelined since breaking his left toot on Aug. 8, ran on the field and will be among players reporting to training camp for Double-A Somerset, where there will be eight or nine pitchers. Boone anticipates Carpenter being available for the postseason as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter.

Right-hander Frankie Montas, sidelined since Sept. 16 by inflammation in his pitching shoulder, has resumed throwing.

“I don’t know about the Division Series,” Boone said, “more likely beyond.”