Cervelli, Pena among potential callups

Cervelli, Pena among potential callups

NEW YORK -- It grated on Yankees manager Joe Girardi earlier this year when he had to send both Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena -- two backups who had far exceeded expectations -- back to Triple-A.

"Kind of like Pena didn't deserve to go down, Cervelli doesn't deserve to go down," Girardi said after sending the latter back to the Minors. "I think he's got a real bright future."

Now, when rosters expand to 40 on Tuesday, Girardi has a chance to bring both players back.

Though the Yankees have not announced their plans, Cervelli and Pena are likely to highlight the team's September callups.

Cervelli, 23, spent parts of three months with the Yankees earlier this year, when starting catcher Jorge Posada and primary backup Jose Molina both spent time on the disabled list. Hitting .269 in his first extended taste of the Major Leagues, Cervelli endeared himself to Yankees brass with his ability to catch a veteran pitching staff.

"I like what I see, just when you talk to him," Andy Pettitte said in May. "The look in his eyes is very confident. If he's confident in what he's doing, no matter how much experience I have out there or any of these other guys, it helps you. It's what you want to do. I'll ask his advice."

Though Cervelli has spent time on the disabled list with a bruised left hand, Girardi said recently that the injury should not affect his status.

His presence should help the Yankees' current catching situation, considering Posada expects his injured left ring finger, which kept him out of three games before his return on Sunday, to remain sore for the rest of the season.

"There will be some games that, if [Posada's] playing, you'll be able to pull him out and not be hesitant because you don't have a third catcher," Girardi said. "That should be helpful for him and us."

Similarly helpful earlier this season was the 24-year-old Pena, a slick-fielding infielder the Yankees asked to learn center field in Triple-A.

Though the acquisition of Jerry Hairston Jr. has made it unlikely that the still-raw Pena will have to play the outfield, he can still help the Yankees as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement at any infield position.

"He's a very gifted defender," Girardi said in May.

Though the Yankees will not announce the rest of their callups until Tuesday, there are plenty of candidates who will receive consideration. Chief among them is Shelley Duncan, who endeared himself to the Yankees during a 2007 power binge and is leading the International League with 27 home runs.

Also likely to return to active duty is Brett Gardner, who has been on the disabled list since July 26 with a fractured left thumb. The Yankees will not immediately activate Gardner, but should do so sometime in mid-September after he has completed a rehab assignment.

"[Gardner's thumb has] been getting better every day, so hopefully it continues to do so," Gardner said on Saturday.

Considering the limits now shackling Joba Chamberlain -- he threw just three innings and 35 pitches in Sunday's game -- the Yankees could also benefit from the addition of a reliever or two. Mark Melancon, Anthony Claggett and Jonathan Albaladejo all remain on the team's 40-man roster, making them prime candidates for September callups.

"We feel it's important to add some pieces here as we move forward," Girardi said. "This is going to happen pretty soon, so we're going to continue to discuss them."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.