PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- It is "fair to say" that Francisco Cervelli can plan on being a member of the Yankees' Opening Day roster, according to manager Joe Girardi, and the catcher's throwing has been his most improved attribute of the spring.
Cervelli nabbed another two runners at second base in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park, continuing his strong showing in camp as the Yankees bank on important defensive contributions from their catching tandem.
Cervelli is 5-for-7 in throwing out runners attempting to steal this spring and, with coach Tony Pena's absence due to the World Baseball Classic, Cervelli said that he has been huddling with Girardi and coach Don Wakamatsu for advice.
"I feel good; couple good ones today," Cervelli said. "I've been working every day, so I feel good, more relaxed behind the plate. I've been working with Joe and Wakamatsu on a lot of things, receiving and throwing, so it's going to help me a lot."
After being shipped to the Minor Leagues at the end of camp last spring, Cervelli arrived in what appeared to be a three-headed competition for playing time with last season's backup, Chris Stewart, and prospect Austin Romine.
Romine was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, and while Girardi hasn't outlined how much he will play Cervelli and Stewart, it seems safe to say they will split the Yankees' catching duties this year.
"I'm going to be happy when I see my name on the first game, but I'm not thinking about that," Cervelli said. "I just come every day, play, work and that's it. Let them decide what's going to happen."
Cervelli showcased his cleaner throwing form on two Ivan Nova pitches in the dirt on Tuesday, throwing out Mike Fontenot in the first inning and Leslie Anderson in the fourth inning.
"He's worked really hard," Girardi said. "His blocking the baseball was outstanding today, coming up and making two throws. That's something that's rushed in a sense, because that play happens very fast. He didn't try to do too much; put the ball right on the bag, so that's good. I've liked what he's done."