It’s only slightly more surprising than Joe Girardi announcing CC Sabathia will be the Opening Day starter, but this afternoon Joe Girardi said it’s “fair to say” Francisco Cervelli will be heading north with the big league club. After what happened last spring, it wasn’t quite a given.
“He’s worked really hard,” Girardi said. “His blocking the baseball was outstanding today. Coming up and making two throws. That’s something that’s rushed in a sense, because that play happens very fast. And he didn’t try to do too much, put the ball right on the bag, so that’s good. I’ve liked what he’s done.”
Cervelli has been a standout here in camp. He had another hit today, but his .227 average doesn’t mean much. It’s the fact he keeps throwing out base runners, including two more on two attempts today. In each of today’s cases, the pitch was in the dirt and the runner took off based on the developing play. Cervelli had to scramble for the ball, then make an on-the-money throw, and he did it each time.
“Mentally, it’s different because what happened last year,” Cervelli said. “Like I say all the time, the expectations I put a little lower now, but (stay) positive all the time. Positive, I know I can do the job, but just ready for everything.”
Cervelli’s place on the team has seemed relatively secure all spring, and the most notable long shot was eliminated from the competition yesterday when Austin Romine was sent down.
“The other two guys (Cervelli and Chris Stewart), we had in our heads they were probably going to be the guys that caught the most,” Girardi said. “I think he caught in six or seven games, but here’s a kid (Romine), we think he needs to go play every day. I think he’s an everyday catcher. I don’t necessarily want him to play once or twice a week, I think he needs to go play every day, and let’s see what we have.”
For now, the job — or at least part of the job — seems to be Cervelli’s.
“This year I just worry about the pitchers,” Cervelli said. “I worry about myself getting ready for the season. No matter what happens, I just have to be ready. I don’t know, I don’t pay attention to other things.”
Associated Press photo