Hitting coach: I wish I had 25 Cervellis

January, 4, 2013
1/04/13
12:35
PM ET
It took Francisco Cervelli a month to get over the pain of being sent down last spring training. But it left some residue, which might not be a bad thing.

Cervelli is determined to win the Yankees' starting job this season. While pitchers and catchers may not have to report for another 37 days, Cervelli said on Sirius/XM's MLB Network he is already in Tampa.

With Russell Martin in Pittsburgh, the Yankees' starting catching situation is a two-man battle between Cervelli and Chris Stewart.

Joe Girardi may eventually just have a less traditional 1 and 1A setup, but Cervelli wants to win the job outright -- and he wants it badly. Austin Romine will need to show the rust is completely gone after missing nearly all of '12 with a bad back and. So while it is not impossible, it is unlikely he breaks camp with the big club if Cervelli and Stewart are healthy.

Former Yankee catcher and current Triple-A hitting coach Butch Wynegar believes in Cervelli, who hit .246 with two homers and 39 RBIs in '12 for Scranton. Cervelli's OPS was .657.

"I wish I had 25 Cervellis," Wynegar said.

Wynegar talked about Cervelli's infectious attitude -- his trademark smile and grit.

"There is no doubt he is a big league catcher," Wynegar said. "My only thing is offensively."

Sometimes Wynegar said Cervelli tries to hit for too much power and he is not a power hitter. Wynegar stressed the old adages of going up the middle and the other way.

"That is true for 95 percent of hitters," Wynegar said. "It is especially true for him. The kid can hit."

Cervelli, who will turn 27 by the time the season starts, had terrible luck in '12. If Romine's back was fine, Brian Cashman would not have felt the need to trade for Stewart to improve the catching depth in the organization. If Cervelli hadn't had minor league options, he likely would have been the choice over Stewart as Martin's backup.

None of that happened, but by ending up in Triple-A Cervelli got more playing time than Stewart or Romine, which might lead to him being better positioned to be the everyday catcher in '13.

"I've always been a believer that good things come out of bad things," Wynegar said.

QUESTION: Would you like to see Cervelli as the everyday catcher?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.291 8 46 47
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 58
OPSJ. Ellsbury .777
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135