Pirates notebook: Injured Francisco Cervelli 'not built' for sitting on the bench
MILWAUKEE — Sitting out the past two games was the only way for catcher Francisco Cervelli to rest his aching left hand and avoid going on the disabled list.
That doesn't mean Cervelli has to like it, though.
“One thing I hate the most is the bench,” Cervelli said, practically spitting out the words. “I hate it. Hate it. Hate it. I did it for a long time, and I hate it. I'm not built for that.”
Early in his career with the New York Yankees, injuries and inexperience kept Cervelli out of the everyday lineup.
“I think bench guys are really important in a game,” Cervelli said. “I did it. I served coffee and did everything. But I hate it. It's not a secret. The day I cannot play every day, I'll go home. I can't do it.”
On Sunday, Cervelli took himself out of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays when it became too painful to grip a bat or catch a pitch. Starting with the off-day Monday, Cervelli was able to recuperate for 72 hours.
Cervelli got daily treatment — “Needles, hot tank, cold tank, a little bit of everything,” he said — but did not require any injections.
“He's making progress, so we're optimistic he'll be available for the starting lineup (on Thursday),” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said.
On Wednesday morning, Cervelli took a few swings in the indoor batting cage. Before his workout, Cervelli pointed to the three fingers to the right of his index finger and shook his head.
“These three fingers, I'm not as strong and I don't know why,” Cervelli said.
Tomczyk does not believe there is any major nerve damage.
“Clinically, right now, it's not glaring,” Tomczyk said. “But there are a lot of structures involved. A lot of those small tendons and muscles have superficial and deep nerves associated with them.”
A year ago, Cervelli had surgery to remove his fractured hamate. He healed properly after the operation, but the lack of that bone in his hand could be affecting him now.
“It could be some effect of the constant abuse that his hand takes,” Tomczyk said. “Those carpal bones are very, very small. It doesn't take much to inflame them. Then, he doesn't have a hook that God gave him to help disperse some of those forces.”
In 2013, a foul tip fractured one of the knuckles on Cervelli's right hand. His body likely is still compensating for that injury, which adds to the wear and tear on his left hand.
“If one body part isn't working the way it should, other body parts will take over,” Tomczyk said. “So that right hand already is at a disadvantage. That requires his left hand to do a little bit more work.”
Although Cervelli knows he will have to play in pain the rest of the season, he's eager to get back on the field.
“Especially in this moment (in the season), it's frustrating for me to not be able to help,” Cervelli said. “I'll sit back a little, recharge my batteries, then feel stronger.”
Gregory Polanco (strained left hamstring) was with the team Monday in Milwaukee, then flew back to Pittsburgh for more tests after being placed on the disabled list.
Although there is no timetable for Polanco's return, he's expected to be out longer than the 10-day minimum. The medical staff is optimistic Polanco will be able to play down the stretch, yet there is a chance he might not return this season.
Tomczyk confirmed Polanco's strain is in the exact spot where he was injured in May and July.
“(The chance of) a reinjury to a quad or a hamstring within the first three months is very high,” Tomczyk said. “So, theoretically, it's not a reinjury; it's the same injury.”
Polanco started nine of 11 games after coming off the DL on Aug. 2. He came up lame while chasing a bloop single in Saturday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Being that this is the third time in the same muscle, sure, you could assess that muscle wasn't completely healed when he was asked to compete,” Tomczyk said. “We put Gregory through the rigors of the rehab. We got his heart rate to a point where we feel it was equal to competition, then tested him. He passed those tests. Unfortunately, when the game speeds up or when he is caught off balance, as you saw in Toronto, it can happen again.”