In 2013, Francisco Cervelli was going to be the everyday catcher for the New York Yankees. A fractured right hand, a rehab setback in his elbow and a 50-game Biogenesis suspension later, his season came crashing down.
This past offseason, the Yankees signed All-Star catcher Brian McCann, further ensuring that Cervelli would not reclaim his old job. Nevertheless, he arrived at Spring Training seeking to redeem himself for the previous season’s failures. He was a man on a mission – and he hit like one. In 40 plate appearances, he batted .405/.450/.811 with four home runs and seven RBIs.
Though McCann had the starting job locked up, Cervelli blew away Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy in the backup competition.
Fast forward to Sunday’s game against the Boston Red Sox. In the bottom of the fourth inning with one out and men at the corners, Cervelli hit a bouncing ball to third base. The Red Sox tried to turn two, but Cervelli beat Jonathan Herrera’s relay throw to first. McCann scored on the play.
It was a great hustle play on Cervelli’s part to get the run in, but he pulled up hobbling after touching first base. He’s since been diagnosed with a grade two hamstring strain and placed on the 15-day DL, though typically that sort of injury requires 4-6 weeks of rehab. Romine or Murphy will likely be called up from triple-A to replace him.
The injury is yet another line on a laundry list of setbacks Cervelli has faced in his career. He’s been up and down from the minors and on and off the DL. The involvement with Biogenesis was totally on him, but he had redeemed himself with the fans and the organization thanks to his torrid spring.
He played well enough to garner attention as a possible trade target, which would have made his dream of being a starting big league catcher come true. In an ironic twist of fate, the Yankees determined that Cervelli was too important as the backup to deal.
He had already appeared in five games for the Bombers and was in position to see more playing time at first base while Mark Teixeira is on the DL. Just when it seemed like things were going right for Cervelli, he was betrayed by his hamstring. The adversity the 28-year-old backstop has faced is truly reaching tragic levels.