Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Feeling Fine Francisco Cervelli Savors a Full Season of Good Health

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Feeling Fine Francisco Cervelli Savors a Full Season of Good Health

Article excerpt

Francisco Cervelli could tell where the question was going, and he didn't want to know.

"Don't tell me the amount," he said, regarding the number of games and plate appearances he had this season. "I want to see at the end. I don't know how many I've got. When the regular season's done, I'm going to look.

"I know it's more than 120 [games]. I feel great just to play every day and especially be healthy."

It's 127, in fact, heading into the season's final series, which begins tonight against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. Cervelli's health - and performance - are important contributors to the Pirates' 96-63 record and third consecutive playoff berth.

Cervelli made the difference in their 96th victory. While starting both games of a Sept. 30 split doubleheader, an impressive feat for any catcher, Cervelli hit a grand slam in the first game.

"The understatement of the day for me would be that was a big swing," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's been awhile since he's hit one."

Cervelli is hitting .299 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage in 497 plate appearances. That surpasses his previous career high, set in 2010, by 180, and he has played 34 more games this year than in '10. He said he is not doing anything differently.

"My injuries were getting hit, that's it," he said. "Getting hit with balls, with bats, whatever. It's nothing like, other kind of injuries."

Except for a strained hamstring in 2014 that cost him two months, he is right. He broke his foot in spring training 2011 after fouling a ball off it and missed April. He got a concussion, the third of his career, in September 2011 in a home-plate collision with the Baltimore Orioles' Nick Markakis.

Cervelli took a foul tip off his hand in April 2013 and needed surgery. He never returned that season; he got a stress reaction in his elbow during rehab and later accepted a 50-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis of America clinic and banned substances. …

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