Dunlap: Cervelli's Pirates Future A Complex One

Is this a tough spot or what?

Colin Dunlap
August 14, 2018 - 7:10 am
Francisco Cervelli

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates seem to be in quite a bind right now. 

And it doesn't have anything to do with this season. 

It has everything to do with Francisco Cervelli and his future here in Pittsburgh. 

Man, is this a tough spot or what? You don't have to watch much baseball to understand the man seems to be a magnet for foul balls. And, more to the point, foul balls that crash into his mask with what appears to be the ferocity of an off-the-rails train near Station Square. 

They hit him. They hit him again. They hit him some more. Then just when he's had enough, he gets drilled again with another one square in the mug and is left woozy. 

The offshoot is that they have caused concussions and Cervelli to miss time. 

The reality is people are worried. 

On our very Fan Morning Show, former MLB catcher and current Pirates television analyst Michael McKenry said not long ago he is "terrified" nowadays watching Cervelli catch because of the pounding that he takes to his melon. 

For me, this has turned from a "I'm worried about Francisco the baseball player" to a "I'm worried about Francisco the man" issue. Yes, indeed, I have a heart. I'm concerned about the guy's life after baseball. 

Just over this past weekend he needed to be removed from a game after taking another foul ball and, while not going on the disabled list, the Pirates summoned Jacob Stallings from Indianapolis and Cervelli was relegated to pinch hitting duties. 

But here's the big question --- and the Pirates' big problem --- what happens to start the 2019 season? 

Cervelli has one season remaining on a contract and is due to make $11.5 million, which would seem a little rich for the Pirates' blood considering Elias Diaz has proven he can catch every day. 

But with the injuries, who is going to want to swing a trade for Cervelli? Who is going to want to take on such a player who seemingly gets dinged up --- of no fault of his own --- every week or so. 

Recently, Cervelli has been working some at first base and has played a few times over there in games. It isn't likely, however, he would see much time at first as long as Josh Bell is swinging it even remotely OK. Playing Cervelli over Bell at first base in the future would make little to no sense. 

So here the Pirates are. 

They have their best plans derailed by something out of their control --- a catcher who for some reason appears to take more of a beating than most catchers do and, dangerously, takes that repeated beating to the head. 

Going into 2019 the club has a big decision with Cervelli. But the reality is, I wonder what choice they have other than to ride this out. 


Follow 93.7 The Fan: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Listen to 93.7 The Fan on the Radio.com App - Download Now