Chris Stewart caught Hiroki Kuroda’s first two starts this season. Since then, it’s been Francisco Cervelli. At this point — fewer than three weeks into the season — the Yankees three-and-two split of the catching duties seems to have ended. Cervelli has emerged as the clear starter and Stewart is the obvious backup, assigned to Ivan Nova and no one else.
“I think (Cervelli’s) just learned a lot,” Joe Girardi said. “How to read swings and I think he’s throwing better again. When he first came up, he threw really well, and I think he got in some habits where he was rushing a little bit too much. He was able to rid himself of those habits. I think the experience of playing every day helped last year.”
The video above is Girardi talking quite a bit about Cervelli this morning. He made it clear that Stewart will catch tomorrow, but there’s little hiding the fact that Cervelli has emerged as a clear standout with his .324 average and a surprising amount of power. Cervelli’s 1.012 OPS is the third-highest on the team behind Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner.
This is just one year after Cervelli was shipped to Triple-A.
“In this game, you have to be able to control the things that you can control,” Girardi said. “You have to be able to turn the page. And I know that’s a pretty thick page he had to turn, being sent down. That’s not like having a bad day at the ballpark. But you have to learn to control your emotions because your emotions can get the best of you in this game, and he went down there with the attitude that I’m going to prove that I don’t belong here (in Triple-A) and I’m going to try to become an everyday player. He went down with the right attitude and he worked very hard.”
• The injured Yankees really impact the team against lefties. The lineup has been productive against right-handers, but there’s still something missing against lefties. Girardi said he’s still looking for a batting order that he likes against left-handers. “A little bit just because we’re going to have some lefties that play against the left-handers,” Girardi said. “And that doesn’t bother me, but it’s just figuring out where to put the guys. What’s the best spot? So that’s why I kind of moved it around today.”
• Girardi didn’t say whether Ben Francisco will keep batting second against lefties, but it seems Vernon Wells will keep batting fifth. “I’m going to try to leave Vernon in one spot and see how that works out,” Girardi said.
• We’ve seen Girardi play Brennan Boesch a few times against lefties this season, but he’s not doing that today. “I like the way Ichiro is swinging better now,” Girardi said. “I might get Boeschy in there tomorrow and the next day. But Ich is swinging well; I’ll keep him going.”
• Speaking of which, Girardi said to expect some regulars to get a day off during this road trip. With back-to-back dome games on turf, the Yankees will give a few guys a break. “We’re in a real long stretch here,” Girardi said. “What is it 16 days (in a row)? Something like that. I’m going to have to pick some spots when to give guys days off.”
• “Normal soreness” for Andy Pettitte today. That seems like a good sign for his back.
• Girardi on Eduardo Nunez’s defense: “I think he’s done a good job. I don’t worry about. I go back to last night, the play he made with Andy when Andy didn’t make a good throw. Sometimes, I like to say one bad throw leads to another bad throw. But it didn’t. He set himself and turned a pretty tough double play. That’s a big step.”
Associated Press photo