Pittsburgh Pirates Wake Up Call: Bucs’ catcher situation looks promising

In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

Veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli celebrated his 32nd birthday Tuesday and enters 2018 looking to put 2017 behind him.

Cervelli, who is heading into his fourth season in Pittsburgh, played in only 81 games last season, struggling with injuries while hitting a career-low .249 with five home runs and 31 RBIs.

Up until he arrived in Pittsburgh, Cervelli didn’t have a starting job while playing for the New York Yankees. And injuries were a big reason why. He flourished in his first season with Pittsburgh in 2015, setting career-highs in almost every category including games played (130), home runs (7), RBIs (43) and runs scored (56).

It would be pleasant to see Cervelli return to that form, but maybe the pressure that is on Cervelli may not be as intense as it was the last two years. Elias Diaz will more than likely be the Pirates backup catcher out of spring training and that may benefit Cervelli.

Diaz fills that role which has previously been filled by Chris Stewart, who served as the Pirates backup the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, Stewart served the team well – and was Clayton Kershaw’s worse nightmare – but with Diaz, the backup role is in much more capable hands. Diaz proved that last season and will likely do so again this year.

It might be wise for Cervelli and Diaz to split time behind the plate as it will allow Cervelli to contribute a little bit more and avoid getting beaten up. This is something Clint Hurdle couldn’t do with Stewart, a player who isn’t capable of starting as much as Diaz.

It will be interesting to see if Cervelli can stay healthy and reap the benefits of having a young backup like Diaz behind him. It’s also possible that we could see Diaz eventually take control of the starting role.

I’m not saying the Pirates have it all figured out. They don’t have a top catching duo by any means, but Cervelli and Diaz do seem to be a promising backstop tandem heading into the season. And I’m sure the Pirates are more pleased with their situation behind the plate than they have in year’s past.

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Jose Negron

Jose Negron is a 22 year old journalist from the North Huntingdon area. A recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Jose has written for Rumbunter and Pirates Breakdown for the past year. He is the former Editor in Chief and Sports Editor of Cal U's campus newspaper, the Cal Times. He also covers high school sports for the Mon Valley Independent and serves as a contributor for Pittsburgh Sporting News, covering the Pirates. During the summer of 2015, he also interned with TribLive Radio, writing for their online blog, helping in the production of various radio shows and even appearing on the air.