Francisco Cervelli of the Pirates over his 12-year career in the majors has racked up more than 5,000 defensive innings as a catcher. Over that span, he’s developed a reputation as skilled handler of pitchers and framer of pitches. Because of multiple concussions, though, he quite understandably says he’s no longer going to be a catcher.

Here’s what Cervelli told Devan Kovacevich in an exclusive to DKPittsburghSports.com

In an extraordinary, emotional conversation at his PNC Park stall Sunday morning, Francisco Cervelli told me he’s decided he’ll no longer catch. He isn’t sure what position he’ll play — he’s been taking grounders and fly balls for a few days now — and he made powerfully clear that the team’s management didn’t impose or even significantly influence the decision, but he sounded drop-dead serious.

“That’s enough,” Cervelli said. “This time is different. I can’t live like this.”

Kovacevich’s story has more, including the near-term plans for Cervelli and his yet-to-be-determined position switch.

Cervelli, 33, owns a career slash line of .269/.358/.376, which comes to an OPS+ of 99. That’s good production for a catcher, especially at the OBP level. That production will become less distinguished at a less premium position, and that assumes Cervelli is able to maintain that level now that he’s approaching his mid-30s (he’s struggled badly across 123 plate appearances in 2019). On the other hand, perhaps the move to a less demanding role will allow Cervelli to pour more focus and energy on his production at the plate. 

Moving forward, Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings will share catching duties for the Pirates, who still have designs on the postseason thanks to the compressed nature of the NL Central.

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