Cervelli Hanging Tough

Cervelli Hanging Tough

ROCHESTER, NY - Illness has slowed number three in pinstripes down for the last few days, pushing back his debut for the unofficial start of the second half of the season. Francisco Cervelli's first half of the season ended strongly and that dated back to the series against the Gwinnett Braves.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre catcher quickly jumps out of his stance, throws off his catcher's mask, and sprints to the live ball that was bunted shallowly between starting pitcher John Maine and third baseman Brandon Laird.

With his right hand he grabs the ball, spins, and fires a rocket to first beating out the speedy Jose Constanza to record the second out of the third inning. The crowd at Frontier Field loudly applauds.

Francisco Cervelli has always prided himself on playing good defense.

"My offensive never affects my defense," Cervelli said. "I think that is the money right there with my defense and I got to show my pitchers that I'm in the game for them no matter what happens with my bat as I still got to work with them."

For the season, the Venezuelan has .994 fielding percentage and has caught 20 runners trying to steal.

In the first game of the four-game series against the Braves, he showcased his strong arm to all. He caught Luis Durango stealing second in the top of the first and with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Cervelli gunned out Tyler Pastornicky sliding into second base.

"[On June 26th] I went 0-2 but I got two big throws and I was happy because I feel like I can do little things that can help the team win the game but sometimes you get three hits or four hits and the team lost and I'm going home mad because I'm a winner and I like to win."

The Gwinnett series also has seen Cervelli shine with his bat. In the second game he hit the go-ahead single scoring Dickerson and clinching the win. In the third game against prized Braves pitching prospect Julio Teheran, he crushed the ball to center-right en route to his first triple of the season.

The season started slowly for the 26-year-old. Besides his surprise demotion on the last day of spring training, he was struggling to get hits in the International League.

"It's been a tough season offensively because the first month was a bad month for me and I think right now I'm in a little slump but I've been making the adjustments and doing better. Sometimes you have to make the adjustments with your mind."

In April, Cervelli batted a meager .213 but since then he has batted .264 (47-178), raising his batting average for the season to .247.

"The biggest thing with Cervie at the plate that all I really talked to him about was I said ‘I like your swing and I just think number one you start late.' Basically that was the biggest thing," Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hitting coach Butch Wynegar said.

In July, Cervelli has batted .333 in the six games prior to the All-Star break but more importantly he has not gone hitless in the month.

"I try to get him to understand how to start his mechanics early and from that point on he just has to hit like he normally does," Wynegar said. "It took a little while to get through to him and all of a sudden one day it clicked for him and that's the biggest thing I stay on him about. Start early so you are in a good position to swing."

When Cervelli is ahead in the count, he has batted .268 and has walked twice as many times as he has struck out.

Even though his bat has been hot and cold this season, the backstop has been reliable behind the plate.

"As far as what he has done here for me, he's made a believer of me both behind the plate and at the plate," Wynegar added. "I will love to see him get back to the big leagues. I hope it's for us, if not I hope it's for somebody and he deserves it. Like I said he made a believer out of me."

With the trade deadline less than a month away, Cervelli may have to discard his pinstripe uniform but for the time being he is taking each game one day at a time displaying his high intensity and passion for the game.

"I just try to come here and do my best and not think about the other things that you can never control."

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