Even relative to the brutal baseline of physical punishment that applies to big league catchers, Francisco Cervelli has been through a lot. When the Pittsburgh Pirates put him on release waivers last week, Cervelli was rehabilitating from what was at least the sixth concussion he’s suffered since 2011, which had kept him out of action since late May. “I haven’t felt normal in a long time,” Cervelli told the Washington Post in July, by way of disputing an earlier report that he intended to quit catching for good. “I don’t [remember] normal. I’m not saying that I feel bad. You think the way you feel is normal, and it’s not. I can be better than this. If I get to the goal that I set, I’ll be behind the plate.” Cervelli is 33, and in the latter years of a playing career that has played out like an unusually slow-paced episode of Jackass. Just getting back to the bigs was an ambitious goal in itself.
That Cervelli did in fact make it back to the majors qualifies as an accomplishment in itself, and that he was claimed by an Atlanta Braves team cruising towards its second straight NL East title qualifies as a cherry on top, as did his three-hit Atlanta debut against the Mets on Saturday. But that Cervelli’s left leg is still working after an impossibly bad slide during Monday’s game against the Colorado Rockies qualifies as a dang miracle. Look at this side-scrolling Double Dragon–ass slide!
Here’s Cervelli’s ankle and foot doing some normal, classic ankle-and-foot stuff:
Cervelli, because he is both a tough guy and an exceedingly lucky guy, pops up after the slide as if he hadn’t just attempted to House Of Flying Daggers second base into orbit. But second base umpire Greg Gibson was not quite able to keep up appearances.
Somehow, Cervelli was indeed all right. All credit to Cervelli for making it back to the bigs, and for continuing to play with the abandon of someone much younger and much healthier. But also, man, please take it easy.