On-Base Perception

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Yankees option Francisco Cervelli to minors, trade for Chris Stewart

Francisco Cervelli of the New York Yankees celebrates

Francisco Cervelli of the New York Yankees celebrates his sixth inning RBI base hit against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (June 8, 2011) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Say goodbye to the guy named Francisco. Say hello to the guy from San Francisco.

Francisco Cervelli was sent to the minors after the Yankees completed a trade for San Francisco catcher Chris Stewart on Wednesday. The Yankees sent pitcher George Kontos to the Giants in the deal.

"I'm disappointed with this, but that's never going to change anything," Cervelli told reporters. "All my life I've had to do things and I've had to do it double, triple. If they want me to prove that I can catch in the big leagues, I'll go and prove it, that I have to be here..."

"I don't understand their reason. I think maybe you've got to ask [GM Brian Cashman], or somebody else. Maybe the other guy is better than I am right now. Just play baseball, no matter where it is, and show them that I'm a big league catcher, like they say."

Stewart, who played one game with the Yankees in 2008, is expected be slotted in as the Yankees backup catcher. A veteran of five seasons and five different teams, Stewart is a .200 career hitter with three home runs. He's only appeared in 93 games, 67 of which came in 2011 when Stewart was called on to fill in for the injured Buster Posey. Stewart hit .204 with a .273 on-base percentage for the Giants.

Cashman explained the move as being all about depth: Cervelli has minor league options remaining, Stewart doesn't.

"That will give us a lot more depth given the [Austin] Romine injury is going to take a little longer because he had a setback recently," Cashman said. "We feel that Cervelli is a major-league backup, without a doubt. Now we're back to where we were before the Romine injury, even though it's not a good situation for Cervy to go back to Triple-A. Organizationally, we're in a good place with Russell Martin, Stewart and Cervelli."

Cervelli was optioned to the minors after hitting a home run during an 8-3 win over the Mets in Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale. Cervelli served as the Yankees backup catcher for the last three seasons. He has a .272 lifetime average with a .338 on-base percentage and five home runs.

He hit .266 in 43 games with the Yankees last season.

Kontos appeared in seven games—all in relief—for the Yankees last season. He allowed two earned runs in six innings, striking out six and walking three. He was 25-33 with a 3.33 ERA in six minor league seasons.

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