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Cervelli insists he was ‘misunderstood’ about quitting catching

CHICAGO – Francisco Cervelli confirmed Saturday what he said in an Instagram post Friday – he wants to continue catching for the Pirates.

Cervelli told our Dejan Kovacevic last Sunday that he no longer wanted to be a catcher because of continued concussions. The 33-year-old sustained the sixth reported one of his 12-year career May 25 when struck in the head by the bat of the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson on a backswing in a game at PNC Park.

Two days before the interview with DK, Cervelli told a group of reporters that he wanted to keep his options open. Cervelli clarified his stance Saturday when he met with reporters before the Pirates played the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“When I say keep my options open, you guys (in the media) see me working every day everywhere because if I don’t catch, it doesn’t mean I cannot play,” said Cervelli, who has been taking ground balls in the infield during pre-game workouts on a regular basis the last two weeks. “But on Sunday, I never said I didn’t want to catch. That was misunderstood. I never said it. It never came from my mouth.”

DK wrote a reply.

Cervelli said he was under the impression he was not doing, in his words, “an official interview.” It is also why he felt compelled to go on Instagram.

“You come to me with your cellphone recording and that’s an interview,” Cervelli said. “This time it’s not about him or anything. It’s a mistake, that’s it, and we move forward. I’m always open to (the media). You guys have a job to do and I respect that. What I said yesterday (on Instagram) is the truth and my people – the manager, the GM – everybody is on the same page. What’s clear in my life is I’ll stop playing baseball when I want to and not when somebody tells me to.

“I want to make it clear that the most important thing is my health and my life first, before catching, and then if everything goes well – I don’t know how long it’s going to take – then I can do what I like again and play the position I want to play.”

Cervelli said he also felt compelled to do an Instagram post to explain himself because the story had become such a hot topic, both in Pittsburgh and nationally. Cervelli is the highest-paid Pirates player this year, making $11.5 million in the final season of a three-year, $31.5 million contract.

“A lot of people are asking me and telling me, ‘Hey, this is a tough decision,’” Cervelli said. “I got a goal here and I say I want to be normal and I want to recover. At the same time, (people’s concern) gives me the passion to keep going and keep working to get better.

“I don’t want to tone it down. I want to play a long, long time. But I want to keep this out of my brain, out of body, and I’m going to be fine. The motivation to put on the catching gear. There is nothing I love more than catching.”

Cervelli is also optimistic after being examined by Dr. Micky Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center earlier this week. Collins is widely considered the nation’s foremost authority on sports concussions and provided Cervelli with a new workout routine.

“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of challenging things,” Cervelli said. “I’ve done a lot of cardio work to make me uncomfortable. The key for me is to come outside of the box to be strong mentally and physically.”

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