Francisco Cervelli
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Francisco Cervelli wants to keep catching

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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.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.