The Mets placed backup catcher Tomas Nido on the seven-day concussion list before Saturday’s game against the Braves, just as their opponent signed one of the recent cautionary tales for head injuries suffered behind the plate.
Francisco Cervelli, a former Yankee who suffered at least his sixth documented concussion since 2011 with the Pirates on May 25, was signed by first-place Atlanta as a replacement for injured backstop Brian McCann. And Cervelli delivered a two-run double in his first at-bat for the Braves in the second inning. Cervelli also hit an RBI double in the ninth inning and went 3-for-5.
The 33-year-old Cervelli was quoted by DK Pittsburgh Sports in July as saying he planned to give up catching because “I can’t live like this.” But he since has denied ever making those comments, including before starting for his new team Saturday against the Mets.
“Somebody say it, not me, somebody put that (in the) news,” Cervelli said. “I was working at other positions and working very hard, but it’s boring for me. I’m not a baseball player, I’m a catcher and I’ve been doing it for 17 years and that’s what we’re gonna do.
“I like to be behind the plate. It sounds crazy, but I like to get hit and do my thing. I’m here now.”
Nido was removed from Friday night’s loss after he’d been struck on the helmet by Josh Donaldson’s bat on a backswing in the sixth inning. The Mets initially allowed the catcher to remain in the game, but Nido was replaced by Wilson Ramos in the seventh. Rene Rivera, who played for the Mets in 2016 and 2017, was summoned from Triple-A Syracuse to replace him.
Nido is batting .207 with three home runs in 39 games, but he is known more for his defense and served for stretches this season as a personal catcher for both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
Cervelli had recently completed a minor-league rehab assignment for Pittsburgh, but he was granted his request for a release from the organization for an attempt to catch on with a contender for the remainder of this season.
“I hoped to be free to be with somebody, like a contender, I was preparing myself for that and today I got the news and I’m here,” Cervelli said. “It’s amazing, this clubhouse has a lot of energy, a lot of young guys that are very hungry. My only mission here is wins, I’m wired that way. It’s very important, first of all.
“Two months ago, I was a little (unsure) about catching or not. I feel like a lucky man, just the fact that I went to Triple-A and played baseball. It doesn’t matter what it is, I played there like a kid again, and now I feel more grateful just to get picked up by a team in first place. They like to win, and that’s the whole idea. I’m here to celebrate every moment and give everything I got.”
Cervelli played 250 games over seven seasons with the Yankees from 2008-14 before he was traded to Pittsburgh for current Mets reliever Justin Wilson. He is in the final year of a three-year deal worth $31 million.
With McCann, another former catcher with the Yankees, placed on the 10-day injured list earlier this week with a sprained left knee, Cervelli will split time behind the plate with Tyler Flowers, according to Braves manager Brian Snitker.
“I’ve seen (Cervelli) for a number of years and I watched video of his rehab and he looked good,” Snitker said. “He’s a guy I kind of liked for a while. He can bring some energy and he’s got skills. He’s a good, little catcher.”