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Francisco Cervelli getting chance to catch while Brian McCann plays first base

Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees tags out Robinson

Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees tags out Robinson Chirinos of the Texas Rangers to end the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

In baseball parlance, the day game after a night game is historically shorthand for a few things: unconventional lineups, unusual defensive alignments and, sometimes, a day off for a starting catcher in need of rest.

Unless, that is, you're Francisco Cervelli, who bounced into the Yankees clubhouse Thursday morning with child-like exuberance, wished everyone around him a good morning, and turned on the music on the stereo by his locker.

Three hours later, he was crouched behind home plate . . . two days after catching all 14 innings of Tuesday's game, and the day after a rain-delayed night game. By the fifth inning, he was jetting along the basepaths, driving in Ichiro Suzuki on a double to left. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Brett Gardner's sacrifice fly.

"I appreciate every moment because of all the things I've been through," said Cervelli, who last season was given the chance to be the Yankees' starting catcher but fractured his right hand in late April. Then he was suspended for 50 games in August after he violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program following Major League Baseball's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic.

He began this season as Brian McCann's backup catcher, but played in just five games before he suffered a hamstring injury.

But opportunity, in the form of injuries to Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson, has meant that McCann has moved to first base, vacating the position for Cervelli. "I have to be ready for every opportunity," Cervelli said. "I just want to win. That's what I like to do . . . and that's been the philosophy for the Yankees."

If it sounded like Cervelli, who's hit safely in his last four games, has tapped into his enthusiasm to find a seemingly endless reserve of energy, it's because, well, he kind of has, manager Joe Girardi said.

"He's probably as energetic as any player I know," Girardi said Thursday after the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Rangers. "He loves to play. I'm not surprised . I'll probably have to take a day somewhere here, fill in a day but he's done a really, really good job."

It's turning out to be an ongoing theme, Girardi said before the game: "Cervi's got a lot of energy. He'll be fine. Right now, he's extremely energetic."

Maybe, just maybe, he bottled up some of that energy during his stint on the 60-day DL. Cervelli, who was reactivated on June 17, has played in only 14 games since his return. "My season started the other day, so I'm fresh," he said, laughing.

That freshness comes at a premium because of McCann's move.

Still, Girardi knows that, for as long and bizarre as the last few days have been, even Cervelli will have to take a break sooner or later. "Cervi's next day might be a day off," he said. Contain your shock, though: That doesn't seem like something Cervelli is particularly keen on.

"I'm good," Cervelli insisted, adding his own definition to a day game after a night game: "I have a little more time to rest [tonight], so I'm good."

New York Sports