BOSTON -- After New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli hit his second home run of the season in the top of the fifth inning Tuesday night at Fenway Park, he crossed home plate and gave an emotional celebratory clap.
Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, who surrendered the home run, did not seem pleased with the gesture by Cervelli. Fast forward to the top of the seventh when Cervelli led off and was quickly drilled in the back by Lackey.
Cervelli was not pleased and started walking toward the mound when Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia intervened.
Saltalamacchia addressed the incident after New York beat Boston, 5-2.
“As far as I’m concerned he’s excited to win and excited for his players to do well,” Saltalamacchia said. “But at the same time you have to respect the pitcher out on the mound, so certain things I think you go too far. To me, the clap at home plate, he was excited. He hit his second home run of the year; good for him.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never had any issues with him. I’ve watched him play and that’s what he does,” Saltalamacchia added. “You’re not going to tell Barry Bonds or David [Ortiz] to run after they hit a home run. That’s the way they play the game, and that’s the way [Cervelli] played the game the three years I’ve watched him. I have no problem with that.”
But didn’t Bonds and Ortiz earn that right to play a certain way?
“Yeah, but the game is changing,” Saltalamacchia said. “Younger guys are coming in, [Rangers shortstop] Elvis Andrus and [Blue Jays shortstop Yunel] Escobar, ... and that’s the way they play the game. It’s OK to an extent, but if you go further than that, then that’s when you’ve got to kind of step back."
"He’s an emotional guy," Saltalamacchia said of Cervelli. "The younger guys who are coming up now are real emotional players. They’re young players coming up, wanting to make a name, wanting to stick around, and the game has changed a little bit from when the older guys were coming up, veterans were a key in their development. So basically I was just saying that he’s a real emotional guy. I have no issues with him doing what he does because that’s the player he is.”
Saltalamacchia said there was no intent to throw at Cervelli.
“I totally understand how it could look that way,” Saltalamacchia said. “The guy hit a home run and then first pitch in his next at-bat you hit him. That was not our intention. With our scouting reports, we talk about how this guy is on the plate and he’s an aggressive swinger. If you watch the at-bat before, we got him out with a fastball in. It’s getting late in the game, Lackey’s pitch count is up and the ball got away. There was no intent, it just happened that way.”
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera hit Saltalamacchia on the left wrist. Boston’s catcher remained in the game and said he was fine.
“It’s good,” he said. “It hit right on the bone and it hurt. I kind of turned into it and it hit me on the bone. It stung pretty good, but we got X-rays and it was fine. I’ll just deal with the stiffness and soreness for a couple of days.”