Much like Billy Hamilton, who was claimed off waivers earlier this month, catcher Francisco Cervelli can only marvel at how welcoming everyone in the Braves locker room has been since he signed a contract with the team last Saturday.
It’s certainly been reflected in his play at the plate, as in two games and nine plate appearances with the club, Cervelli is batting .556 and has already doubled as many times (three) as he did in 34 games with Pittsburgh this year.
While he joked that he was “lucky” before Wednesday’s game, where he was back in the starting lineup, his luck appeared to run out. In his first plate appearance, in the second inning, Cervelli was hit by a pitch. A double by Rafael Ortega to the outfield wall drove in Adeiny Hechavarria from second, and Cervelli looked like a good bet to score from first. But he clearly slowed down after rounding second, and third-base coach Ron Washington held him up at third.
A visit from manager Brian Snitker resulted in him being removed from the game and replaced by Tyler Flowers. The team later said Cervelli had developed a cramp in his left quad while running the bases and was taken out for precautionary reasons.
Before the game, he had given a lot of the credit to the front office and coaching staff for making it easy for newcomers to fit in right away.
“They make everybody feel together, that’s the only way you can win championships, if everybody is on the same page,” he said. “It’s a brotherhood here, everybody treats each other with respect and they have fun, so whoever comes they make them feel like they’ve been here for years.”
On Wednesday, the 33-year-old caught his third different starter in his third appearance for the Braves – albeit briefly - with Mike Foltynewicz taking the mound. With the team having won each of the last seven starts made by the right-hander, Cervelli said he wasn’t about to reinvent the wheel when it came to catching an unfamiliar arm, but he’d simply do what he always does when dealing with a new pitcher.
“I check the videos as soon as I came here but the most important thing for me is to talk to them,” he said. “Get to know them a little bit and see what they like and what they don’t. Everything else I figure out later.
“Catching is all about the relationship with the pitcher and the more I know about them, personal stuff, the better I can call the game.”