Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli exited the team’s game against the Dodgers on Saturday with concussion-like symptoms, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was among those to report. Cervelli left after Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson’s bat struck him in the head on a backswing.
This could be the latest in a frighteningly long line of brain injuries for Cervelli. The 33-year-old has dealt with well-documented concussion issues dating back to his time as a member of the Yankees, with whom he played from 2008-14, and they haven’t let up in Pittsburgh. Cervelli spent time on the injured list with a concussion on multiple occasions last season.
Injuries, not just to the head, have been an unfortunate hazard of the position for Cervelli throughout his time in the majors. Cervelli has been quite productive for most of his MLB career when he has taken the field, though he has only reached the 105-game mark once (in 2015). He appeared in 104 during his concussion-shortened 2018 campaign and was one of the Pirates’ best players, slashing .259/.378/.431 (125 wRC+) with a personal-high 12 home runs in 404 plate appearances.
So far this season, Cervelli hasn’t been able to build on his productive 2018 as he closes out a three-year, $31MM extension. An uptick in strikeouts, a decrease in walks and a power outage have limited Cervelli to a brutal .193/.279/.248 line (49 wRC+) and one homer in 123 trips to the plate. Backup Elias Diaz has offered similar numbers, leaving the Pirates in dire straits behind the plate.