Cervelli opens up about PED use, says he was seeking “a quick fix”

What Went Wrong: Vernon Wells
Staff Notes: Rothschild, Thomson, Mackanin

During a conversation with Erik Boland, Frankie Cervelli opened up about his performance-enhancing drug use and admitted he was looking for “a quick” after a fouled pitch broke his left foot in Spring Training before the 2011 season. “I felt — so many times in my career — a little scared I’m going to lose my job,” said Frankie. “Every year I have to go to Spring Training and fight for a job.”

Cervelli, 27, did not discuss the substances he took or who pointed him towards Biogenesis, but he did say he traveled to New York to personally apologize to Joe Girardi shortly after his 50-game suspension was handed down in August. “I went to the Stadium to talk to him because the team, maybe they don’t deserve all the distractions,” said Cervelli. “I went there to apologize to him because he’s one of the people that’s believed in me, gave me the chance, and he’s a gentleman.”

Cervelli managed a 143 wRC+ in 61 plate appearances this year before a broken right hand and subsequent setback ended his season. I don’t know what the Yankees are planning to do with him next year — I get the sense they want to distance themselves from PED guys as much as possible, though that’s just a hunch — but until they come up with two better catchers, his spot on the roster figures to be safe.

What Went Wrong: Vernon Wells
Staff Notes: Rothschild, Thomson, Mackanin
  • I’m One

    I cerntainly understand Cervelli’s rational for seeking out help to recover from an injury, much like I do with Pettitte. I also appreciate that he seems to have come clean now and is not backing away from this. I give him credit for doing that as well.

    What I find interesting in all of this Biogenesis stuff is that we’re not aware of anyone that has failed a drug test. Each of the suspended players may still be using whatever it was they were using before their suspensions.

    • http://twitter.com/Paddock9652 Stratman9652

      I find your last paragraph to be the most interesting aspect of this whole PED scandal. MLB and the media wants to trumpet this as a big step in cleaning up the sport. Unfortunately all they did was broadcast to the world “Hey guess what? There are drugs out there that don’t get detected through our system and if you can find a clinic that will keep its mouth shut you can take them too.” I guarantee there are clinics out there dealing this stuff to players right now. They just got the best free advertising they could get directly from the people who want to take them out of business.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Melky and Colon both failed drug tests.
      That they were already suspended for the failed drug tests is why they didn’t get suspended again this season.

    • Holy Ghost


      Rather than prove they’re cleaning up the game, all the MLB has done is bring attention to the fact that their testing system has major flaws.

    • Tom

      Most of the stuff these guys are taking these days are fast acting and provide a quick testosterone boost. The stuff apparently can be below threshold levels within 24 hours of taking it. And who knows what sort of masking agents they might be using. So unless you happen to get a random drug test right after using it’s hard to detect.

      The new system is slightly different though which should help a bit in catching some of the fast acting stuff. The old testing system used one threshold for all players – this has to be set high as people have different testosterone levels. The new system (implemented last year I think) establishes an individual baseline for each player and then has some threshold based off that. This should tighten the testing and might do a better job at picking up the fast acting stuff.

  • JOhn C

    Other teams don’t seem to have a problem with these guys. Rangers brought back Nelson Cruz. Tigers welcomed back Johnny Peralta. Yanks should give Cervy another chance. Should also not deter them from chasing Peralta this offseason.

    • Pee Wee Herman Ruth


      Peralta should be a bigger target than McCann for the Yanks this off season.

      • Gonzo

        Peralta turns 32 in the middle of next year. I’m not sure I’d want him more than McCann even if McCann turns 30 before the season. I trust McCann’s track record at the plate more.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixiera – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    I agree with Mike that Cervelli’s spot on the roster until they bring in someone clearly better than him (McCann for example), but I disagree with Mike saying that the Yankees would have to bring in two catchers for him to lose his roster spot. If a big bat like McCann signs with the Yankees I think they let Romine be the back up and go from there. His performance overall was underwhelming to say the least, but I like what I saw out of him down the stretch this year. It is unfair, but you have to think that whatever numbers Cervelli put up at the beginning of this year were somewhat steroid/hgh related. All that being said, I don’t think the Yankees will sign McCann or bring in anyone (Lucroy). They are for some reason content with a 0 bat behind the plate.

  • MannyGeee

    Meh, sounds like a bunch of nothing-speak. Pettitte already used up the ‘I wanted to heal, and I didn’t know better’ line already, so this provides no solace to me.

  • Caballo Sin Nombre

    Steroids/HGH are not spinach. You don’t just take them and get an instant magic power surge. It’s doubtful he saw much benefit other than more rapid recovery from injury.

    • mitch

      How do you know? That HR he crushed against Boston was certainly something we’ve never seen from him before.

  • Mister D

    Talent aside, Cervelli + PEDs is infinitely more likable than McCann + McCann’s personality.

    • Gonzo

      Dude, you are looking at it all wrong. Do you know how many HRs McCann can prevent if properly motivated?

    • http://twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

      what’s wrong with his personality?

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        I assume he’s referring to his HR trot police deal.

        That being said, he did that to one of the games most unlikable personalities in Carlos Gomez.

    • mitch

      Personally, I think the Yanks could use an unlikeable personality like McCann. I wouldn’t mind seeing somebody pissed off the next time Ortiz crushes an HR and showboats it

      • Mr. Roth


      • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

        Aj Pierzynski suits that need too (on a 1 year deal)

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          At least McCann is good.

          • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

            At lease Aj Pierzynski will be cheaper (you know since we have to replace about 50% of our 25 man roster and get under $189) :)

            • Need Pitching & Hitting

              Cervelli would be even cheaper, and would probably offer very similar overall value to Pierzynski (if he can actually stay healthy)

              • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

                True that…I’d be in favor of that too. I just don’t see the need to sink a ton of money into McCann.

              • MannyGeee

                AJ Pierzinski had a nice offensive season in Texas and they have ZERO ML ready depth in the position. I could see Texas going hard for McCann, but if not… I could see them offering Pierzinski a 2 yr deal as plan B.

  • KD

    This zero-tolerance banning of so-called PEDs is nonsense. Reminds me of the failed War On Drugs (TM) when kids get expelled for bringing a Tylenol to school. If a guy is injured and on the DL, let him get a Rx from the team physician to assist healing.

    • Gonzo

      Look at how much concussions cost the NFL. The MLB doesn’t want to get sued for 20-40 years from now if players start growing tumors and such.

  • david schlager

    I honestly find it hard to believe. The ONE time he used, he got caught? im sure he has been using for a while.

    • Mr. Roth

      He didn’t fail a drug test, his name was in the Biogenesis Clinic records.

  • Stan the Man

    And if that is true then what’s the big deal? The Yanks had no problem bringing Pettite back. Cervelli was playing quite well before he was hurt. He will be 28 and is a very good defensive catcher, good plate discipline, contact hitter, and can run the bases. Oh and he is a cheaper player so there really isn’t any downside to bringing him back.

    • MannyGeee

      whoa… a solid 61 PAs turned Frankie Cervelli into the poor man’s Yadier Molina? srsly?

      He was just a tick above average in a SOOOOOOOPER small sample size, lets not get him doing MLB14 commercials just yet.

  • RetroRob

    I’m surprised he said anything. Most of the media and fans don’t care, unless the name attached to PED use is A-Rod, Bonds, Clemens, etc. Mid-level players, and certainly lesser ones like Cervelli go unnoticed.

    The Yankees should hold on to him along with Romine and Murphy, and give Stewart his walking papers.

  • Robert

    I am happy with Romine and Murphy starting the season in the Bronx.Cervelli and Stewart are what they are Back-ups.
    Cut Stewart send Cervelli to Scranton as a gap call up until Gary Sanchez can make a claim for the Bronx Job.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Cervelli has no options remaining.
      It’s very unlikely he’d clear waivers.
      Romine is most likely nothing more than a backup either.
      Cervelli might be the best of the bunch (excluding Sanchez)

  • Mr. Pappageorgio

    The only place Stewart belongs in the Yankees organization is driving the bus for the Charleston River Dogs.

  • Holy Ghost

    I’m not sure what substance Cervelli took but it’s annoying that people assume that all banned drugs in sports have the same benefits as Steroids.

    Lots of pro-athletes take HGH to speed up recovery from injuries. I don’t think they should have their reputations ruined for that. There have been controlled studies on this issue and so far there’s zero evidence that HGH enhances athletic performance.

    HGH belongs in a separate category from Steroids and Testoserone treatments.

    • KD

      Well put, Holy Ghost. However, I fear that most people are too intellectually lazy or just plain too stupid to make that distinction.

      • TCMiller30

        At what point do the make the distinction though?

        Steroids: You use them, and it speeds up the muscle building/repair process. Making getting stronger quick and easy. Clear cut performance enhancer.

        HGH: Helps with muscle repair. Muscles need time to rest to repair from stress/exercise. By using HGH, you’re able to recover faster, work out more, build muscle quicker and easier than if you’re not using it. Is that not also a performance enhancer?

        Aside from the fact that any of these drugs are illegal without a prescription, I don’t think one should be viewed as totally ok, while the other is a damnable offense. I guess I’m too lazy or stupid to see the difference. I don’t really care what these guys do, but I know if it was my kid in high school who was illegally obtaining HGH to get better at sports, I’d be just as furious as if I found out he was doing the same thing with testosterone.

        • Holy Ghost

          There’s no evidence that HGH enhances athletic performance. If you take it, you might look younger or get six-pack abs faster but it’s not in the same league as Steroids. It won’t help you run faster, jump higher, or crush fastballs.

          What I don’t get is how it’s okay for athletes to take drugs like Cortisone shots, which help them play while injured but it’s cheating for them to take substances that shorten their time on the DL?

          Granted, I don’t agree that athletes should seek out shady operations like Biogenisis. I just don’t blame them because the stance pro-sports takes towards these kinds of treatments is unreasonable.

        • RetroRob

          HGH does none of those things.

          BTW If it did, it should be legally licensed for use to all athletes.

    • TCMiller30

      The issue isn’t only that HGH is viewed as a performance enhancing drug. The issue is that taking prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal; and not just in sports. I’m sure if an athlete had a condition or procedure, in which HGH was a medically approved treatment, then there probably wouldn’t be an issue.

      I think the most obvious thing to compare it to is stimulant meds like ritalin and adderall. They’re totally legal drugs if you have prescriptions for them, but guys get suspended in the NFL for taking them without a prescription. The only problem with HGH is that it’s not approved for conditions that you could easily fake like ADD.

      • Holy Ghost

        “The issue isn’t only that HGH is viewed as a performance enhancing drug. The issue is that taking prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal; and not just in sports. I’m sure if an athlete had a condition or procedure, in which HGH was a medically approved treatment, then there probably wouldn’t be an issue.”

        I agree and the problem is that HGH is banned in most professional sports and not totally legal. But in the world of PEDs, HGH is like Marijuana and Steroids is like Cocaine.

        Like Marijuana, there may be some positive benefits to using HGH. I think the MLB should be more open-minded towards the idea of allowing HGH to be used while players are on the DL and only if it’s prescribed by a doctor.

        I don’t think going after players who might of used a banned substance while trying to recover from an injury is helpful to sports or the health of the athletes.

    • Kevin

      Out of curiosity where do these studies come from? HGH use is massive among steroid users seeking to build muscle for aesthetic reasons, why would that muscle have no athletic impact?

      • OldYanksFan

        Other eye-opening findings in the polls done for Digital Citizens by Zogby:
        •Over 8 percent of males aged 18-25 reported that they have used anabolic steroids.
        •One in five males ages 18 – 25 said that taking APEDs is “the only way to make it in professional sports.”
        •An additional 24 percent said it was “critical to enhancing one’s athletic performance.”
        •More than 77 percent of parents of males between the ages of 14-25 said the use of PED in pro sports put pressure on young athletes to also use the drugs.

      • Holy Ghost

        Here’s a link to a summary of a 2010 study on HGH – http://www.sportsscientists.com/2010/05/does-human-growth-hormone-improve.html

  • Cesar “Stairs” Cabral

    *Pats himself on back for having better quick fix idea*

  • Steve McNally

    Great story but I don’t understand why nobody doesn’t ask the million dollar question …. how did Cervelli find his way to Biogenesis. Seems to me that MLB keeps accusing AROD of recruiting and this would have been a prime opportunity to ask someone who admits to being connected.