The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be trying players at different positions this spring. There is a surprising change for one player.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have an interesting situation behind the plate this year. The team has veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli in the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, they also have catcher Elias Diaz, who had a major breakout season last year. It will be interesting to see how the team distributes the playing time behind the plate.
However, the team showed last year that they could get both players in their lineup. The team gave Cervelli five appearances at first base. These starts came after he suffered another serious concussion issue. The Pirates did not want to risk putting him back behind the dish and they wanted to keep his productive bat in the lineup.
This year that concern of Cervelli’s health is coming right out of the gate. How much can the Pittsburgh Pirates rely on Francisco Cervelli behind the plate? He is always prone to injury, plus with his concussion history, it is a risk to put him in a position to possibly get another one. Now, obviously, Cervelli will still get a majority of his playing time as a catcher; he is very good with the young pitching staff and is a pretty good all-around defender behind the plate.
Still, the team needs to have other options if something where to happen. One option is obviously for Cervelli to continue and get reps at first base. He has already appeared there once this spring, playing five innings in a game.
The team also is considering moving Cervelli to another position in the infield, third base. According to Adam Berry of MLB.com, Cervelli was seen taking groundballs at third base during drills this past Sunday. Still, this may not be anything more than just getting Cervelli more opportunities to get at-bats this spring. Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed this when he shared his thoughts with Berry on the topic:
"“He’s the catcher. I know he’s the catcher. If he wants at-bats and he can’t DH every time, where are you going to go?” Hurdle said. “He understands that as well. It’s getting him the at-bats, keeping him in the flow of play as far as game speed.”"
Cervelli is the team’s starting catcher. However, with his injury issues, it could be a good thing to have him working out at other positions. The team has a lot of depth at third base, but to have Cervelli be able to play catcher, and some first base and third base, it could help the team in the long run.
Cervelli mentions that he wants to help this team win and him getting some experience at third base will allow him to help in an emergency. It sounds like that we should not expect to see the animated catcher playing on the left side of the infield anytime soon other than maybe in practice.