The Pittsburgh Pirates Smart Use Of Francisco Cervelli This Spring
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been using catcher Francisco Cervelli in a creative, and smart, way this spring
For one reason or another sports teams need to get creative with certain players. This spring, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been creative with their use of starting catcher Francisco Cervelli. This creativity from the Pirates is a smart idea and one that could pay off in the upcoming season.
As Pirate fans know Cervelli has a past history of concussions. After suffering multiple concussions with the New York Yankees, Cervelli has missed time due to concussions each of the past two seasons. This came after being concussion free during his first two seasons in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates wanted to find a way to limit Cervelli’s susceptibility to concussions this season. Not just for the best interest of the team, but, even more importantly, for the best interest of Francisco himself. In their efforts to protect Cervelli, the Pirates have used him differently this spring.
Cervelli is known as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. He is already a proven handler of a pitching staff, and has a rapport with most of the team’s pitching staff. Combine this with Cervelli catching the pitching staff’s side work and bullpen sessions, and there is no need for him to be logging a large volume of innings behind the plate this spring.
Due to this, Cervelli has been appearing in Grapefruit League as a first baseman and a designated hitter this spring. By doing this Cervelli is still getting his spring at bats logged, but he is not experiencing the wear and tear of catching. Most importantly, he is not risking any foul balls to the mask which have caused him concussions in the past.
Using Cervelli this way is also smart because it allows him to get more work in at first base. Toward the end of last season the Pirates began to use Cervelli at first base at times. This can allow Cervelli to serve as Josh Bell‘s backup at first base, it is a way to keep Cervelli’s bat in the lineup while giving him a day off from catching, and it is a way to get both Cervelli and Elias Diaz in the lineup.
Speaking of Diaz, he may miss the start of the season due to an undisclosed illness. If this were to happen, it would only add to the importance of Cervelli being healthy. While Jacob Stallings is an excellent defender, the offensive drop off from Cervelli/Diaz to Stallings is substantial.
The way the Pirates have used Cervelli this spring has been creative and smart. They are getting him his spring ABs, allowing him to work his defense at first base, and protecting him from the wear and tear of catching. In the long run, this could prove to be beneficial for Cervelli and may add to the number of games he is able to catch during the 2019 season.