Friday, April 6, 2012

The Most Unkindest Cut of All

Today we have Yankees baseball - except of course - Francisco Cervelli. That's because he's the ultimate pinstripe underdog.

Every ballplayer's dream is to make the Majors and this is true - even more so - for Francisco Cervelli.  He has put in a tremendous amount of work and has displayed a huge amount of perseverance.  Naturally, performance in baseball is paramount and while Cervelli may not have the physical attributes to be a first rate starting catcher, his non-blase approach to the game and animated style of play are well respected by his peers. "There's something to be said for rewarding a hard worker.  It would have been nice for Cervelli to at least get opening day."

After recovering from several injuries that included his latest concussion, a demotion must feel like the ultimate injury to Cervelli.  The demotion also represents the latest "message in a battle" for him and ominous sign that his short window as a catcher for the Yankees is coming to a close.  Girardi once said that he has to prepare for life without Cervelli as his backup catcher and now he has certainly helped the process.

Unfortunately, in baseball fortunes change quickly and the demotion accentuates that perception and further defines his fate.  The shock without a doubt must be weighty for Cervelli, but he has an iron clad will to succeed and this setback will not tame his devotion and fearless confidence.  Cisco sports an extremely positive approach as he intones: "The mind is too strong, anything you put in your mind is going to happen, whether is positive or negative.  Your body follows your brain."

Hurdles are not anomalous to Cervelli as he has endured and embraced a slew of injuries: In spring training 2008 vs the Rays, he broke his wrist in a collision with Elliot Johnson at home plate. In spring training 2009, he came down with a case of pneumonia, and in winter ball that year; he suffered the first of three concussions playing in Venezuela.  In a 2010 spring training game vs the Toronto Blue Jays, he was hit in the head by pitcher Zech Zinicola (his second concussion).  In spring training 2011 vs the Houston Astros, he breaks left foot on a foul ball.  Lastly, he underwent his third concussion on September 8, 2011 vs the Baltimore Orioles on an all-out play at the plate to prevent Nick Markakis from scoring.

Cervelli was afforded an opportunity to play regularly - but like many players not primed for everyday duty - his flaws were exposed as the workload became more demanding.  And, while his .272BA and .338OBP in 181 games over four seasons is not exactly the the kind of offensive qualities that define a starting player, he has played well enough to remain Russell Martin's understudy.

For Cervelli -  "there is a lot of frustration, but everything happens for a reason and I'm always thinking - just keep moving forward.  There is no time to cry as there are plenty of people in this world without food or housing and we have a perfect life as ballplayers. Just get better, practice and come back."

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Geo Ginrosge