Chad Jennings of Lohud reported that catcher Francisco Cervelli, who injured his foot with a foul ball in yesterday’s Spring Training game, will miss at least 4 weeks with a fracture in his foot. This is an unfortunate situation for Cervelli, who was the likely front-runner for the backup catcher position on the major league squad due to a combination of the age of Jorge Posada’s, and the inexperience of Jesus Montero and Austin Romine.
This unfortunate injury may open the door wide for Jesus Montero to make the major league roster out of Spring Training, even if the previous plan was to keep him in AAA for additional seasoning. However, there are reasons why this unfortunate news may be a blessing in disguise. With Martin probably not at 100% health, Montero would have the opportunity to get more reps than a typical backup, which would be immensely valuable for his development both offensively and defensively. By having Montero in the majors from the beginning, he will have more time to work with Joe Girardi, Tony Pena, and Jorge Posada, three guys with decades of catching experience between them. If Montero gets off to a strong start both offensively and defensively, he could seize the starting job from Martin, or at very least, make it a difficult decision to send him down when Cervelli is back.
It is also possible that despite the injury, the Yankees might choose to stick to their original plan with Montero. They could sign a veteran backup (or bring Gustavo Molina north) and deal with mediocrity for a few weeks while giving Montero the chance to get some full-time playing in for Scranton. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees decide to do, but with the combination of the injury to Cervelli and the slow progress of Russell Martin, it would not surprise me at all to see Jesus make the roster. If he does, my offensive expectations for him will be tempered in the early going, as a 21 year-old in his first go-round against major league pitching could put up some ugly statlines. However, over the full season, I expect him to easily outperform Cervelli. His defense will not likely be anything special, but he has looked better than I expected this spring, so I am optimistic that he won’t embarrass himself in that regard. The spring training pressure (if such a thing exists) just ramped up, but hopefully Jesus will rise to the challenge.
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