When Francisco Cervelli arrived at New York Yankees spring training one month ago, he knew that he was locked into a three-way battle that could end anywhere from serving as the team’s Opening Day starter behind home plate to off the roster altogether.
Just one day after rookie Austin Romine was optioned to Triple-A for the beginning of the season, manager Joe Girardi noted on Tuesday that it is “fair to say” Cervelli will be headed north with the rest of the New York Yankees squad for their season opener on April 1.
While the offensive numbers may not show it, Cervelli has been a standout throughout spring training. He has hit just .227, but has consistently gunned down baserunners trying to steal, and has looked much improved in the receiving asset of his defensive game. The improvement in Cervelli’s defense did not go unnoticed by Joe Girardi.
“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.”
Tuesday’s news surely must come as a relief to Cervelli, who went through last spring ready to serve as Russell Martin’s backup, only to find out he had been optioned to Triple-A in favor of newly-acquired Chris Stewart. This year, it appears likely that Cervelli and Stewart will split the catching duties in the wake of Martin’s departure.
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