Archive for Francisco Cervelli

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.

Categories : Asides, STEROIDS!
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Oct
07

What Went Wrong: Injuries

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The 2013 season is over and we’ve had a week to catch our breath. It’s time to review the year that was, starting with the Yankees’ significant injuries. They pretty much defined the season.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Every single team deals with injuries every single year. It’s impossible to make it through the full 162-game season without losing players to injury, either nagging or severe. Injuries come with the territory and the Yankees had a lot of them in 2013. They didn’t use a franchise record 56 players out of the kindness of their heart — they lost roughly 1,400 man games to injury and used the Major League DL a ridiculous (and MLB-high) 28 times this season. If you wore pinstripes this summer, chances are you got hurt at one point or another.

For the most part, we can fit every injury into one of two categories: predictable and unpredictable. A player rolls his ankle running through first base? Unpredictable. Not necessarily surprising, it happens, but not something you’d expect. But a pitcher with a history of arm problems blowing out his elbow? Yeah that’s predictable. Some guys are so injury prone it’s a matter of when they’ll get hurt, not if. You want to think this is the year they’ll stay healthy — remember when being a full-time DH was supposed to keep Nick Johnson healthy? — but it very rarely is.

The Yankees had a ton of injuries this year, some more devastating than others. We’re not going to focus on the nagging day-to-day stuff or quick 15-day DL stints in this post. We’re going to look at the long-term injuries — both the predictable and unpredictable ones — meaning the guys who missed most or all of the regular season. I’m leaving Alex Rodriguez (left hip) out of this because we knew coming into the year he would be out until at least the All-Star break. I want to focus on the players everyone expected (or hoped) would be on the roster come Opening Day.

Predictable Injury: Derek Jeter
It all started last September, when Jeter fouled several pitches off his left ankle/foot and played through a bone bruise late in the season. In Game One of the ALCS, the ankle finally gave out and fractured. The Cap’n had surgery in October and the initial timetable had him on track for Spring Training and the start of the season. He’s Derek Jeter and he works harder than everyone, so he’ll make it back in time, right? Wrong.

Jeter’s progress in camp was deliberate as he nursed the ankle, and it wasn’t until mid-March that he appeared in his first Grapefruit League game. He played five exhibition games before needing a cortisone shot in the ankle and being ruled out for Opening Day. Here’s the timeline that followed:

  • March 31st: Yankees place Jeter on 15-day DL.
  • April 18th: Yankees announced Jeter suffered a setback — a second (and smaller) fracture in the ankle. He was not expected to return until the All-Star break.
  • April 27th: Jeter is transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Vidal Nuno.
  • July 11th: Yankees activate Jeter off DL. He goes 1-for-4 in his first game back but suffers a calf strain running out a ground ball.
  • July 23rd: Jeter is retroactively placed on the 15-day DL after the calf doesn’t respond to rest and treatment.
  • July 28th: Yankees activate Jeter. He plays five games before the calf starts acting up again.
  • August 5th: Jeter is retroactively placed on the 15-day DL (again) as rest and treatment doesn’t do the trick (again).
  • August 26th: Yankees activate Jeter. He plays 12 games before his surgically-repaired left ankle becomes sore.
  • September 11th: For the fourth time, Jeter is placed on the 15-day DL. The moved officially ends his season. Three days later, the Yankees transferred him to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for David Phelps.

Four DL trips for what amounts to three different leg injuries. Jeter appeared in only 17 of the team’s 162 games and looked pretty much nothing like himself, with little impact at the plate and close to zero mobility in the field. He was never the rangiest defender, but it was especially bad this season. When a 38-year-old shortstop — Jeter turned 39 in June — has a major ankle surgery, you have to expect there to be some delays and complications during the rehab process, even when he has a full offseason to rest.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)

(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Unpredictable Injury: Mark Teixeira
Up until last season, Teixeira was an iron man. He was good for 155+ games played a year every year, but various injuries (cough, wrist, calf) limited him to only 123 games in 2012. With the cough behind him and an offseason of rest for the calf, Teixeira was expected to be as good as new for this season. Then, while with Team USA preparing for the World Baseball Classic, he felt some discomfort in his right wrist and had to be shut down.

The soreness turned out to be a tendon sheath injury, which can be pretty severe if not allowed to heal properly. Teixeira and the Yankees opted for rehab because there was no reason not to — surgery, which was always a realistic possibility, would have ended his season anyway, so might as well try the rehab route first. He did the rest and rehab thing before rejoining the team on the final day of May. Teixeira appeared in 15 games before the wrist started acting up again. On July 3rd, he had the season-ending surgery. No one saw the wrist problem, which was described as a “wear-and-tear” injury, coming.

Predictable Injury: Kevin Youkilis
When it became official that A-Rod needed his hip surgery in early-December, the Yankees had to find a replacement everyday third baseman. The free agent market had little to offer, especially once Eric Chavez decided to move closer to home in Arizona. New York signed Youkilis to a one-year, $12M contract to replace Rodriguez despite his history of back problems.

Not counting four separate day-to-day bouts with spasms from 2008-2010, Youkilis spent time on the DL with back problems in both 2011 and 2012. That doesn’t include some nagging day-to-day stuff between the DL stints either. Sure enough, 17 games in the season, Youkilis’ back started barking. He missed a handful of games with tightness before aggravating the injury on a feet-first slide into first base on a defensive play. That sent him to the DL with a bulging disc. Youkilis returned in late-May and managed to play another eleven games before needing season-ending surgery to repair the damaged disc. For their $12M investment, the Yankees received 118 mostly ineffective plate appearances. Backs don’t get better, then just get worse.

Unpredictable Injuries: Curtis Granderson
Aside from Jeter and A-Rod having surgery in the offseason, the parade of injuries started in the first home game of Spring Training. On the fifth pitch of his first Grapefruit League at-bat, Granderson took a J.A. Happ fastball to the right forearm. Just like that, the Yankees had lost their top power hitter for three months with a broken arm. They’re lucky (in a sense) that the injury occurred so early in Spring Training and Granderson was able to return in mid-May, not much later in the season.

After returning from the DL in the team’s 39th game of the season, Granderson appeared in eight games before another errant pitch sent him to the sidelines. This time it was Rays left-hander Cesar Ramos who did the deed. The pitch broke Granderson’s left hand and would keep him out ten weeks even though the initial diagnosis called for a six-to-eight week recovery time. Curtis returned to the team in early-August and wound up playing in only 61 of the club’s 162 games. Hit-by-pitch injuries are the definition of unpredictable injuries.

(John Munson/Star-Ledger)

Pineda didn’t do much more than this in 2013. (John Munson/Star-Ledger)

Predictable Injury: Michael Pineda
Thanks to last May’s labrum surgery, Pineda was expected to miss the start of the 2013 season but be a factor in the second half. He started an official minor league rehab assignment in early-June and exhausted the full 30 days before the Yankees determined he was not big league ready. They optioned Pineda to Triple-A Scranton in early-July and less than a month later, he came down with shoulder tightness. Although tests came back clean, the tightness all but assured we wouldn’t see him in pinstripes for the second straight season. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman said during his end-of-season press conference they shut Pineda down as a healthy player after more than a year of rehab and pitching just to get him rest. Given the nature of the injury, it was no surprise the right-hander was slow to return and ultimately a non-factor in 2013.

Unpredictable Injury: Frankie Cervelli
Thanks to some throwing improvement in Spring Training and the fact that Chris Stewart can’t hit, Cervelli took over as the team’s everyday catcher early in the season. He started 16 of the team’s first 22 games, but in that 16th start, Rajai Davis fouled off a pitch that hit Frankie square in his exposed right hand. His suffered a fracture and was expected to miss at least six weeks … until he suffered a stress reaction in his elbow during rehab. The stress reaction supposedly stemmed from a change in his throwing motion to compensate for the hand injury. Cervelli was suspended 50-games for his ties to Biogenesis in August but that really didn’t matter; the elbow injury had ended his season anyway. Catching is brutal, but a broken hand on a foul tip is still not something you can see coming.

Predictable Injury: Travis Hafner
You name it, and chances are it sent Hafner to the DL at some point in recent years. Most notably, he missed almost the entire 2008 season due to right shoulder surgery. The same shoulder started barking this summer, first in mid-May and then again mid-July. It’s probably not a coincidence his production completely tanked after the first bout with soreness. Hafner was placed on the DL in late-July and missed the rest of the season, for all intents and purposes. He was activated for the last few games of the season but only played in one. Pronk visited the DL seven times from 2008-2012, so it’s no surprise he wound up there in 2013.

Categories : Injuries
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If ballplayers had a problem with Alex Rodriguez following the Biogenesis revelations, they’re going to downright hate the man if the latest report proves true. According to a 60 Minutes report, it was A-Rod‘s camp that provided un-redacted versions of the Biogenesis documents to Yahoo! Sports last February. This is quite a big deal, considering the un-redacted version of the documents added many names to the list of known Biogenesis clients.

If you search the original Miami New Times article, you will see no mention of Ryan Braun, among others (including Francisco Cervelli). It was only when the Yahoo! Sports report ran, almost a week later, that we saw Braun and others appear. Nearly all of the players on that un-redacted list have since been suspended, with the exceptions of Gio Gonzalez and Danny Valencia, who were cleared, and Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, and Bartolo Colon, who had previously served suspensions.

Given the deluge of leaks from MLB leading up to the Biogenesis suspensions, and their continuing case against A-Rod, it’s fair to assume that this leak also came from them. MLB has accused Rodriguez of attempting to obstruct their investigation into the players involved with Biogenesis, yet this seems to be the exact opposite. Whoever leaked the un-redacted documents did MLB a favor, since it exposed more players. Yet that might not be the biggest implication of this matter.

Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk notes that if A-Rod did leak these documents, he might have violated the confidentiality clause in the CBA.

Like any report from anonymous sources (especially when signs point to MLB as the source), we shouldn’t take it as fact. Like any report involving Alex Rodriguez, we will anyway. I do have to say, if this does prove true it feels quite a bit worse than using PEDs.

Categories : STEROIDS!
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7:30pm: Both A-Rod and Cervelli were docked one day’s pay, reports Wally Matthews. That’s approximately $153,005 for Alex and $2,816 for Cervelli, who said he was “too stressed out” to report to the complex on the day the suspensions were announced.

4:00pm: Via Andrew Marchand: As expected, the Yankees have disciplined Alex Rodriguez for seeking a second opinion on his quad injury without the team’s approval. This is the whole Dr. Gross/Mike Francesa thing. A-Rod denied receiving anything informing him of the discipline but acknowledged it could have been sent to his lawyer.

The Yankees also disciplined Frankie Cervelli for “failing to report to work” on Monday. That was the day the various Biogenesis suspensions were announced. Cervelli probably knew the suspension (and his decision not the appeal) was coming that day and never bothered to report to the complex in Tampa, where hew was rehabbing his hand and elbow injuries. The nature of the discipline is unclear, but both players were probably fined. They could have made A-Rod pay for his own medical bills or something.

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Frankie Cervelli does not need surgery to treat a stress reaction in his right elbow, the Yankees announced. He saw Dr. James Andrews after complaining of nagging discomfort. Cervelli’s season is over one way or another, either due to the injury or due to his 50-day Biogenesis suspension.

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(Rich Schultz/Getty)

(Rich Schultz/Getty)

As expected, Major League Baseball (finally) announced Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. It’s officially a 211-game suspension, which is basically broken down in a 50-game first-time ban plus 161 games for interfering with the investigation. From the official release:

Rodriguez’s discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years.  Rodriguez’s discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.  The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.

Because he was suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement, A-Rod can file an appeal and play in the meantime. He will do just that, and, in a twisted coincidence, he will make his season debut against the White Sox in Chicago tonight. Here is Alex’s statement:

“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this.”

And here is what David Cornwell, Rodriguez’s attorney, had to say:

“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action. Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”

I wonder if that “all legal remedies available” line is an indication a lawsuit for … something, could be on the way. I guess we’ll find out eventually.

It was rumored Bud Selig would suspend Alex using the integrity clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would have kept him off the field even during an appeal, but that did not happen. Selig & Co. supposedly decided it would improve their case and better maintain labor peace by sticking with the discipline outlined in the JDA.

Rodriguez has three days to file the appeal, which is why his suspension does not officially begin until Thursday. The hearing must take place within 20 days of the appeal and a ruling must be handed down no later than 25 days after that. Frederic Horowitz will preside over the appeal. He was appointed baseball’s arbitrator last June after MLB fired Shyam Das for overturning Ryan Braun’s suspension. Horowitz can overturn or uphold the suspension, as well as reduce the number of games. This isn’t an either/or thing like salary arbitration.

Rodriguez’s camp insisted they would not discuss a plea agreement in recent weeks. MLB threatened to ban him for life using the integrity clause, but that was apparently nothing more than a bluff. A-Rod insinuated the league and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him off the field during a press conference following a recent minor league rehab game. The team responded with a strongly worded statement:

“We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.

“However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.”

Union head Michael Weiner contacted MLB on A-Rod’s behalf to talk about a settlement on Saturday, but was rebuffed. Alex contacted the team about buying out the four-plus years and $95M or so left on his contract but was told no dice due to the impending investigation and discipline. Weiner, who indicated a legal battle could drag into November or December, left no wiggle room when saying the union will stand behind it’s highest paid player:

“We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously. We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach.”

Players are not paid during drug suspensions, nor does their salary count against the luxury tax. A-Rod’s suspension would cost him approximately $34.2M if it started today, but his contract is front-loaded and his salaries decrease from 2013-2017. The longer the appeal takes and the further the suspension gets pushed back, the less he’ll lose. The Yankees have not been shy about their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold starting next year, so shedding A-Rod’s $27.5M “tax hit” for all or part of the next few seasons would be a huge boon.

MLB is said to have “mountains” of evidence showing Rodriguez purchased and used performance-enhancing drugs from 2010-2012 with help from former Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch. There hasn’t been much info on the evidence regarding his attempts to interfere with the investigation, however. Bosch agreed to cooperate with MLB to avoid a lawsuit, though he reportedly tried to extort a six-figure payout from the team’s third baseman first. A-Rod’s army of lawyers will surely look to discredit Bosch.

Considering his age (38), his two surgically repaired hips and overall declining skills, it’s hard to believe Alex will be able to return to the Yankees as a productive player following a lengthy suspension. Thanks to the cash savings, the team would be in a better position to negotiate a buyout of the remainder of his contract after the suspension. Well, it might be easier to swallow, I should say. It’s tough to think the suspension will be anything but a career-ender for A-Rod.

Among the other suspended players is Frankie Cervelli, who received a regular ol’ 50-game ban as a first time offender. His nature of his connection to Biogenesis is unclear. He accepted the penalty and will begin serving the suspension immediately, without appeal. Cervelli is expected to miss the rest of the season with lingering hand and elbow problems, and he’ll be allowed to serve the suspension while on the DL. The Yankees said they “are disappointed” and “it’s clear that he used bad judgment.”

Eleven other players were suspended in addition to A-Rod and Cervelli: Antonio Bastardo, Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Fautino De Los Santos (minors), Sergio Escalona (minors), Fernando Martinez (minors with Yankees), Jordan Norberto (free agent), Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello (minors), Jordany Valdespin (minors) and former Yankees farmhand Jesus Montero (minors). Yasmani Grandal and former Yankees Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera were not disciplined after serving 50-day suspensions within the last calendar year.

I wish I could say I’m glad this is all over and done with, but that’s not the case. Not even close. The appeal ensures this will drag on for another few weeks and I’m guessing there will still be regular A-Rod updates even after that. The good news is that we are a big step closer to getting some closure though. The Biogenesis stuff has been in the headlines far too long and is taking a lot away from the games on the field. It’s great MLB is going to such great lengths to clean up the game, but make no mistake, it is coming at a cost.

Categories : STEROIDS!
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7:00pm: Joel Sherman reports the Yankees have been informed by the league that A-Rod will be suspended tomorrow, but Bud Selig will not invoke the “integrity of the game” power and ban him from playing during the appeals process. Barring a new injury, he’s going to be in the lineup tomorrow night against the White Sox.

10:00am: Via T.J. Quinn & Andrew Marchand: MLB will indeed suspend Alex Rodriguez on Monday for his ties to Biogenesis, and it’s likely to be a 212-game ban that keeps him out through 2014. The commissioner’s office is expected to prevent Alex from playing during the appeals process by invoking its power to protect the integrity of the game. A grievance will follow and “it could get very, very ugly,” according to the ESPN scribes.

A-Rod played in his second and final minor league rehab game with Double-A Trenton yesterday, and afterwards he said he was flying to Chicago to meet the Yankees for their series opener against the White Sox on Monday. Obviously he won’t actually rejoin the team if the report is correct. Rodriguez will lose roughly $34.2M in salary as  a result of the suspension, but more importantly, his career will be over. Players in their late 30s don’t miss two full seasons and come back strong.

Eleven other players are expected to be suspended Monday as well, including Frankie Cervelli. He’ll likely receive a regular ol’ 50-game first-time ban, which he could serve this year and return to the team on Opening Day next year. Suspended players don’t count against the luxury tax, which would be huge for the Yankees given their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold next year. Obviously A-Rod is more significant in that regard than Cervelli.

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Via Joel Sherman & Ken Davidoff: Frankie Cervelli is among the nine players who are “leaning strongly” towards taking a plea deal from MLB following the Biogenesis investigation. MLB has told the union which players will be suspended, and Ronald Blum says the announcements could be pushed back to Friday as the various parties work out the deals. That would allow first time offenders like Cervelli to serve their 50-game suspensions this year before starting 2014 with a proverbial clean slate.

MLB is still trying to get Alex Rodriguez to accept a similar plea agreement, though his suspension is expected to be much longer than 50 games because the league claims he tried to impede the investigation. The two sides have been playing what amounts to a game of chicken in recent days — MLB officials have leaked reports indicate MLB will seek a lifetime ban for A-Rod if he doesn’t settle, and supposedly Bud Selig is prepared to bypass the Joint Drug Agreement and use the power of the commissioner’s office to ban him from baseball citing the integrity of the game. Alex’s camp has remained defiant and insists no settlement will be made. This will all end at some point, right?

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(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Got a plethora of injury updates courtesy of George King, Chad Jennings, and Josh Norris:

  • Derek Jeter (quad) fielded ground balls hit right at him and made throws to first base yesterday, his first time doing any real baseball activity since getting hurt. He also hit off a tee and soft toss. The Cap’n is expected to take regular batting practice and run today.
  • Alex Rodriguez (quad) is down in Tampa but will have to rest for a few days before resuming any kind of baseball activity.
  • David Phelps (forearm) will make his first rehab start for Double-A Trenton tonight. Brian Cashman has already confirmed Phelps won’t automatically re-enter the rotation when he’s ready to come off the DL.
  • Curtis Granderson (hand) took three at-bats in a simulated game yesterday. “I’m getting there. I definitely need some [at-bats],” he said. Granderson will be re-evaluated after getting more simulate game at-bats today and tomorrow.
  • Kevin Youkilis (back) started rehab work about two weeks ago following his surgery. His agent said it is “early in the process,” but Youkilis said he expects to return to the team this year. The original 10-12 week timetable put him on track to return in September.
  • Jayson Nix (hamstring) had six at-bats in a simulated game yesterday. He is expected to go out on a minor league rehab assignment at some point soon.
  • Austin Romine (neck) has been limited by some stiffness. “I planned on catching him [Sunday], but he got to the ballpark and couldn’t turn to his left,’’ said Joe Girardi, who added Romine is getting better by the day.
  • Frankie Cervelli (hand, elbow) has been participating in catching drills but has yet to do anything more than take dry swings. He said batting practice is “coming soon.”
Categories : Injuries
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Frankie Cervelli has been shut down for at least two weeks with a stress reaction in his right elbow. The team thinks he reaggravated an old injury by changing his throwing motion to compensate for the broken hand that has had him on the DL since April. He had just started taking being practice and was expected back shortly after the All-Star break, but now Cervelli is looking at sometime in August.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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