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.
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 anof 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.