A baseball clubhouse is a much happier place with Francisco Cervelli is in it. Gustavo Molina seems like a perfectly nice guy, and he did a nice job in his limited role this month, but Cervelli showed up with hugs for every player and clubhouse attendant in sight.
“I’m new again,” he said. “Just, I’m excited to be here, that’s it. When you get here you don’t feel anything.”
Joe Girardi said he plans to have Cervelli behind the plate on Sunday. That’s a day game after a late-afternoon game, and that matches Cervelli with Ivan Nova instead of A.J. Burnett, who pitches tomorrow. Cervelli and Burnett have worked together in the past, and Girardi said he wouldn’t be opposed to putting those two together again if the schedule begins to fall that way.
“You wait and see how days fall,” Girardi said “But they’ve worked well together and it’s something that I might keep.”
As for Cervelli, he worked extra hard this offseason in anticipation of a fight for the backup catcher role. He wound up winning it with only five spring at-bats, the same number as Kyle Higashioka. Clearly the Yankees are comforted by Cervelli’s experience and familiarity.
Cervelli said the worst part of these past few weeks — nearly two months, really — has been all the time spent on his couch. “I think I’m too hyper,” he said. The sitting around drove him crazy, but he said he used that time to watch video. He watched some catching videos, but he mostly watched video of his pitchers, and he tried to watch every Yankees game.
“When I get to spring training I never feel comfortable, like I’ve got my spot on the team or something like that,” he said. “I always want to play like a rookie, and my whole career I have to fight for everything. I don’t think there’s a time to be comfortable and sit on the couch and think you’ve got something. Right now, it’s the same thing. I’m going to be ready because a lot of things can happen.”
• Brett Gardner is a career .444/.545/.889 against Ricky Romero, and Girardi said Gardner’s success against the Blue Jays starter was the most significant factor in the decision to keep Jorge Posada on the bench today. “Gardy’s had some success off of Ricky Romero and swung the bat well last night,” Girardi said. “We want to keep him going.”
• Girardi didn’t mention it, but Posada is a career .200/.200/.267 hitter against Romero. Then again, Jones has just one hit in nine at-bats against Romero.
• The Yankees are in a stretch of 32 games in 33 days, and Girardi indicated that this won’t be the last time Posada is replaced at designated hitter. He specifically mentioned Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher as players who might get a DH day to stay fresh.
• Mark Teixeira said his shoulder is still a little sore, but nothing like it was yesterday or the day before. “I think I strained the front part of it,” he said. “When you strain something like that, the whole shoulder just locks down. That’s why it was so stiff and tough to swing at all. It’s feeling a lot better.” Teixeira said he never had any tests. “No reason to,” he said.
• If there’s a ball that requires him to dive tonight, Teixeira said he won’t hesitate. “I throw my body around a lot,” he said. “I weigh 225 pounds. Sometimes when you land on hard dirt or on bases or run into walls or whatever it may be, sometimes you get bruised up. But I’m not going to change the way I play.”
• I still haven’t seen Phil Hughes since the announcement that he’s going to see a vascular specialist in St. Louis, but Girardi said Hughes is the same as ever. “He’s good,” Girardi said. “He’s basically going to go to St. Louis on Monday and he’s just waiting to have his test. I’m sure he’s wondering what’s exactly going on. As I said, Phil is a pretty calm guy and his personality to me doesn’t seem to be a lot different.”
• The usual stuff about tonight’s starter Freddy Garcia: “I’ve said all along, Freddy just knows how to compete and that’s what he goes out and does,” Girardi said. “He finds a way to get it done. He’s clever. He’s able to read swings and has an idea of exactly what he wants to do.”
• By the way, it’s stunning just how much stuff a catcher brings with him to the ballpark. While Cervelli was moving into his locker, people just kept carrying in bags and boxes full of bats and gear and equipment. There was stuff everywhere.
Rajai Davis CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
David Cooper DH
J.P. Arencibia C
John McDonald 2B
Associated Press photos