Francisco Cervelli talks trade rumors, concussions and playing catcher for Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. – Francisco Cervelli was not surprised to hear his name connected to trade rumors, but the veteran catcher made it clear that he wishes to remain with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“The way baseball is now, nothing surprises me,” Cervelli said Tuesday at Pirate City. “I’m here now. I’ve got this uniform. I’m going to make sure to represent them well. If they decide to do something different, I’ll be thankful but I hope they’re not. This is a place that I want to be.
“The noise outside, you need to just shut it down because it’s not good.”
Cervelli is set to make a salary of $11.5 million this season in the final year of a three-year, $31 million contract, which makes him the Pirates’ highest-paid player. He had career highs with 12 home runs and 57 RBI last season. Cervelli had never hit more than seven homers or drove in more than 43 runs in a season in his 11-year career.
The Dodgers were rumored to be one potential trade partner in the offseason, but Cervelli’s injury history makes him a risk. He hasn’t played in more than 104 games since 2015, and was sidelined by concussions last season.
“The prevention, probably you’ve got to build a wall in front of home plate, a concrete wall,” Cervelli said. “To not get hit is something you cannot take away. But I really work on a lot of stuff with my eyes to get back on track and tell my brain, ‘This is what we have to do.’”
Cervelli expressed no concerns about recurring concussions.
“Before the season was done, my head was good,” Cervelli added, “so there was nothing to worry about.”
Cervelli also repeated his stance that his preference is to play catcher, where he started 93 games last season. He started four games at first base and played there five times last season.
“I’m a catcher,” Cervelli said. “I’ll play first if they need it, but I’m a catcher. This is what I love, to catch more than hit. But, in the end, Clint is the boss. If he wants me to work at first and third, I’ll do it. It’s not a problem. If it’s for the team, it’s good. But I’m a catcher.”
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Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.