Francisco Cervelli comes clean over his role in Biogenesis suspension
TAMPA, Fla. - Francisco Cervelli knows the tag will probably always be there. He's already heard it, as has his family.
"Maybe it's a thing you have to carry forever," the Yankees catcher said Tuesday after a workout at the team's minor-league complex.
Cervelli was among 13 players accepting 50-game suspensions, officially announced Aug. 5 by Major League Baseball, without appeal for taking performance-enhancing drugs allegedly supplied by Biogenesis, the since-closed Miami anti-aging clinic run by Anthony Bosch.
The 27-year-old Venezuelan said he didn't consider appealing, as teammate Alex Rodriguez is with his 211-game suspension, or publicly trying to excuse himself.
Making his first extensive comments since the suspension, Cervelli said in an interview with Newsday that going to the clinic in 2011 was his mistake, resulting in consequences he has to own.
"I talked to my agents, my lawyers and that's what I said," Cervelli said. "Let's stand up and that's it. I don't want to keep this soap opera going."
Cervelli, whose career has been beset by injuries, said his reason for involving himself with the clinic was simple. Biogenesis offered the possibility of "a quick fix," he said, a faster return from a broken left foot suffered in March 2011 when he was battling for a backup job.
"I felt so many times in my career a little scared I'm going to lose my job," said Cervelli, who finally achieved what he called his "dream" of being the starting catcher of the Yankees this spring. "Every year I have to go to spring training and fight for a job."
It was a message Cervelli, who suffered a broken right hand April 27, delivered to Joe Girardi when he traveled to New York shortly after the suspensions were announced to privately apologize to the manager.
"I went to the stadium to talk to him because the team, maybe they don't deserve all the distractions," Cervelli said. "This year's been so crazy with everything. 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, though he didn't specify, said he took advice from people he shouldn't have.
"Sometimes you listen to people who have nothing to lose; that's dangerous," he said. "When you're desperate or anxious or scared, that's when you have to step back, slow down and think about what can happen in the future with your actions in the present."
Cervelli, who last spring training said he simply consulted with Biogenesis and denied getting PEDs, is still rehabbing his hand, an injury that was supposed to heal in six weeks. Instead, setback begat setback, which included a stress reaction in his right elbow in early July and, Cervelli disclosed Tuesday, two more surgeries on the hand, which is still swollen, though he said that's likely because of scar tissue. The latter of those surgeries came Aug. 5, the same day the Biogenesis suspensions were announced.
He watched the coverage in a hospital bed.
Cervelli, who has been catching bullpen sessions at the complex, as well as steadily increasing his hitting and throwing regimen, hopes to be cleared for winter ball by mid-November.
As he's continued working out at the complex, Cervelli has been open about his situation with younger players in the organization.
"I talked to all the kids here in the rookie league, just be careful with your circle and the people around you, especially the people that have nothing to lose because they don't care if you fail or are a success," he said. "I'm not going to tell anybody what they have to do, what decisions they have to make. Prevent a little bit about when you're desperate, anxious or whatever, what bad decisions you can make, so just be careful. Just listen to your heart and listen to good people."
Cervelli, who is arbitration eligible this winter, declined to comment on A-Rod but knows this won't be the last time he's asked about that topic or his suspension.
Still, in his eyes, 2014 beckons.
"It's over," Cervelli said of the Biogenesis ordeal. "I move on and I'll come back better than ever."