As Francisco Cervelli awaits clearances to return from his sixth documented concussion, he made it clear playing catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates remains his preference.
Cervelli has been out since May 26 after Joc Pederson’s broken bat hit him in the mask against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It marked the 33-year-old Cervelli’s third stint on the concussion injury list since June 2018.
Aside from avoiding hits to the head — be it a foul tip or broken bat — Cervelli said he has no plans to change his stance behind the plate to prevent another traumatic brain injury.
“I used to be back. I got hit. I moved forward. I got hit. How many times have you seen a breaking bat go to the back of the catcher? I don’t know. I don’t have that answer,” Cervelli said Sunday morning before the Pirates played the San Diego Padres at PNC Park. “Probably I have to put a concrete wall and just leave my hand outside. That’s it.
“I don’t know. This is the game for me. I hope it’s not for the other guys. This is my game. I accept it. I’ve got two choices: stay down or get up. You all know me. I’m up again.”
Cervelli isn’t up with the Pirates just yet.
He could be headed for a minor league rehabilitation assignment before rejoining the major league club. First, Cervelli has to be cleared through MLB’s concussion protocol, as well as by Pirates doctors.
“Physically, he told us he feels great from a body standpoint,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “Obviously, he’s been down from baseball for a bit, so a rehab assignment would make all the sense in the world. We’ve still got a few medical and administrative boxes to check. But he could very well go on rebab this week if everything goes well.
“Hopefully we get all good news out of it. That’s what we’re hoping for. If we get that, yes, then he can get out and play baseball again.”
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