Cervelli starts, is off to a good start

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
7:33
PM ET
The Yankees were pounded by the Red Sox on Opening Day. But you can't blame Francisco Cervelli for feeling good, despite the defeat.

After spending almost all of 2012 in the minors, Cervelli officially returned to the big leagues on Monday, started behind the plate and drove in the Yankees' only two runs in an 8-2 loss to Boston.

[+] EnlargeFrancisco Cervelli
AP Photo/Matt SlocumFrancisco Cervelli, who spent most of 2012 in the minors, was behind the plate at Yankee Stadium on Monday afternoon.
"I feel happy. It means a lot to me," said Cervelli. "But at the same time, I've gotta keep working. I've gotta keep doing my thing."

The 27-year-old Venezuelan made his major league debut with the Yanks in 2008, and was the team's backup catcher from 2009-11, including appearing in a career-high 93 games in 2010. Cervelli got 266 at-bats that season, and hit .271 with 38 RBIs.

He hit .266 in 43 games and 124 at-bats in 2011. But the Yankees sent him down to Triple-A just prior to the start of the 2012 regular season, choosing instead to go with the duo of Russell Martin and the newly acquired Chris Stewart behind the plate. Cervelli still had minor league options, so he was the odd man out.

The Yankees finally recalled Cervelli last September, but he appeared in just three games and had one at-bat.

When Martin signed with the Pirates in the offseason, the door re-opened in the Bronx. Manager Joe Girardi said before Monday's season opener that he plans to split the catching duties pretty evenly between Cervelli and Stewart to start the year. Cervelli got the nod on Opening Day, and rewarded his skipper with a clutch two-out single in the fourth inning, bringing home Kevin Youkilis and and Vernon Wells and cutting the Yankees' deficit to 4-2.

Cervelli finished 1-for-3 with a walk. The game ended in disappointing fashion, but Cervelli is fired up for what lies ahead.

"Any time the manager needs me," he said, "I will be there."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 15 67 69
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 67
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .764
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAH. Kuroda 3.81
SOM. Tanaka 135