After season in Minors, Cervelli grateful to be back

After season in Minors, Cervelli grateful to be back

After season in Minors, Cervelli grateful to be back
NEW YORK -- Francisco Cervelli is open about his time in the baseball wilderness, and he's thankful to have another opportunity in the Major Leagues. Cervelli, New York's backup catcher for much of the 2010 and 2011 campaigns, returned to the big leagues Saturday as a September callup.

And he did so with a newfound sense of perspective. Cervelli admitted that he was frustrated to be demoted to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre at the end of Spring Training, but the 26-year-old said that he re-discovered his love of the game and his sense of perspective as a Minor League catcher.

"When you drive back to New York City and you see all the buildings, it's like the first time I got called up," he said. "I'm gonna miss the bus, because it was my house. Here, we're on airplanes. It's a little more comfortable. Everything is better here, but it was a really nice experience over there."

Indeed, that was Cervelli waxing poetic about the hit-and-run nature of life in the Minors, which requires hours on end spent in the back of a bus in between destinations. Especially in 2012, when the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees played their home games in ballparks all across the Northeast and Pennsylvania while their home ballpark underwent renovations.

Cervelli said he lived in a hotel during his time in the Minors, a method of convenience that kept him from ever getting settled.

"Bus, hotels. Check-in, play, check-out. That's it," said Cervelli of his nomadic lifestyle. "So if you ask me for any hotel in any city, I know. You have to make sacrifices to get to the things you want. I do whatever I have to do just to be here and to stay in the big leagues, because that's what I love."

Cervelli batted .246 in his time with Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and manager Joe Girardi said he got good reports on how the backstop fared defensively. The manager also understood Cervelli's initial frustration at his demotion, because he had seemingly established himself with the parent club.

Cervelli played in just six Minor League games over the course of the 2010 and '11 seasons, but he got into 136 games with the Yankees over that time. He wound up losing the backup catcher job when the Yankees acquired Chris Stewart from the Giants in early April, and Cervelli admitted that it took him some time to get over it.

"I was frustrated in the beginning, but after that you go to the positive side of everything," he said. "In May when my family came, they made me walk the line again and to realize how lucky I am to have a job. And I'm still doing what I like to do: Play baseball. No matter where it is, I have to enjoy it."

That's a natural progression, said Girardi, and one that he went through in his own playing career. And because of that experience, he said, it's become part of his standard talk with players.

"I'm sure it was extremely difficult," said Girardi. "I went through it, when I was up and then I got sent down for a while. The first two weeks were tough on me, too. One of the messages that I give to players when they do get sent down -- and if it's a tough send-down -- is don't make the mistake I made. Don't take two weeks before your head is clear. Get your head clear as soon as you can so you go out and play and get yourself back here. But it's hard. It's definitely a hard thing to go through."