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Cervelli catching on

3/12/2013

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The question seemed like a dumb on as soon as it left my mouth.

"So," I asked Joe Girardi after the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Rays on Tuesday, "is it safe to assume Cervelli will make the ballclub?"

"That's fair to say," the manager muttered, before adding, "We'll see."

Considering what happened to Francisco Cervelli last spring, when he seemed to have played well enough to nail down the backup catcher's spot behind Russell Martin only to have the rug yanked out from under him on the last day of camp with the arrival of Chris Stewart, it's really not a dumb question at all.

Cervelli's not hitting much, just .227, but defensively he is having a terrific spring and, judging by the criteria Girardi said he's looking for in his everyday catcher, should be way ahead of Stewart in the competition. Cervelli has thrown out five of seven base-stealers, and although he did not get credited with a caught-stealing Tuesday, he threw out two runners trying to advance to second on balls that bounced away from him, which were key plays in getting starter Ivan Nova out of jams.

Cervelli also had a single that started the Yankees' three-run eighth-inning rally.

"He's worked really hard," Girardi said. "His blocking the baseball was outstanding today, and coming up and making those two throws. And he didn't try to do too much, put the ball right on the bag, so that's good. I've liked what he's done so far."

With Austin Romine being optioned to Triple-A Scranton on Monday, it would seem Cervelli has nothing to worry about this season, although Bobby Wilson is still here and had a two-run single that wound up being the game-winning hit Tuesday.

"I'm going to be happy when I see my name on the first game, but I'm not thinking about that," Cervelli said. "It's different because of what happened last year; my expectations are a little lower now. I just come every day, play, work and that's it. Let them decide what's going to happen. I know I can do the job, but I'm just ready for anything."

QUESTION: Do you think the Yankees can win with Cervelli as their everyday catcher?