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Cervelli fine after whiplash playing in Venezuela

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Cervelli fine after whiplash playing in Venezuela play video for Cervelli fine after whiplash playing in Venezuela
NEW YORK -- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli suffered a whiplash injury on a foul tip while catching in the Venezuelan Winter League and traveled to Tampa, Fla., last week to be examined by the organization.

General manager Brian Cashman said that Cervelli initially had an MRI performed in Venezuela, but the Yankees wanted to exercise caution and had Cervelli fly to the United States for their own tests.

"We brought him in just to take a look at him and made sure he was fine," Cashman said. "He was cleared and there were no injuries, so he's free to resume play if that's what he chooses to do. That's what he told us he was going to do."

ESPN New York first reported Cervelli's injury.

Cervelli, who turns 27 in March, has been playing for Navegantes del Magallanes after spending most of last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He batted .246 with two home runs and 39 RBIs in 99 International League games last year.

Following Russell Martin's departure to the Pirates, the Yankees envision Cervelli and Chris Stewart competing this spring for starting catcher duties. Austin Romine and Bobby Wilson are also potentially in the mix as the club emphasizes defense behind the plate.

The whiplash issue is the latest in a string of injury concerns for Cervelli, who has also suffered at least three concussions during his playing career. The latest came in a season-ending home-plate collision with the Orioles' Nick Markakis in September 2011.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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