Catching on a daily basis isn't easy. Not even if you're an exuberant 24-year-old named Francisco Cervelli.
Cervelli's zeal for the game of baseball helped propel him to a scorching start to 2010—the backup-turned-starter held a .400 batting average through 20 games played on May 17—but he's not an energizer bunny.
As of May 17, Cervelli had started in 14 of the Yankees' last 22 games as Jorge Posada nursed a calf injury. His eight days off provided enough rest for the catcher to continue to produce at a consistent level.
Then, Posada hit the Disabled List after fracturing his right foot and Cervelli started 10 of the 11 games leading up to this weekend's series against Cleveland. In those 11 games, Cervelli slumped in the batter's box, where he hit .211 with five RBIs.
On Friday, Joe Girardi finally gave his backstop a break, starting Chad Moeller instead.
The day off didn't help Cervelli return to his pre-May 17 form, though. In his return to the starting lineup on Saturday, Cervelli went 1-for-5. He finished the wrap-around series at 2-for-9.
Even if he won't admit it, there's no doubt that Cervelli is fatigued from catching so much in May. There must be a correlation between his games played and his slump at the plate, which is why Jorge Posada's return from the Disabled List is so anticipated.
One of the better hitting backstops in baseball, Posada had posted a .326 batting average along with six homers and 14 RBIs in 26 games played prior to spending time on the DL. He can be activated tomorrow and hopes to return for the upcoming series against the Orioles.
Posada ran and took batting practice at Yankee Stadium today, but Girardi wants to see how Posada's foot responds tomorrow before making a decision on when to play his starting catcher.
When Posada returns, Cervelli will reclaim his role as a backup, fifth-day starter.
It's a win-win situation for the Yankees and Cervelli.
Assuming Posada doesn't endure a long slump upon his return, the offense will welcome the return of its consistent No. 6 hitter.
On the other side, Cervelli obviously won't be thrilled about losing his daily starting job, but he understands his role as a Yankee—to provide energy, a high baseball IQ behind the plate, and a sturdy bat as a backup, fifth-day starter. With extra rest, he shouldn't have a problem filling that responsibility.
And, who knows, with Nick Johnson on the DL for awhile, Cervelli might be able to receive some more at-bats as DH.