Health ends Cervelli’s season

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH–Francisco Cervelli’s disappointing 2017 season is officially over.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Monday that Cervelli won’t play again this season because there isn’t enough time left for him to rebound from a third stay on the disabled list.

“As we mapped out the calendar, we’ve just come to the conclusion that we’ve run out of days for us to feasibly and realistically push to continue to play,” Hurdle said before the game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“He’s worked as hard as he can. He’s poured everything he can into it to get to the point he has today.”

Cervelli has been out since Aug. 26, the day after he strained a quad muscle while running the bases. He had just returned from his second trip to the DL, the result of a concussion that came taking a foul ball off his mask

Cervelli still has two years remaining on his contract. This season he appeared in 81 games, a low in his three seasons with the Pirates. He batted 249 with five home runs, 31 runs batted in and an OPS of .712.

Diaz’s chance

With Cervelli done, the final 12 games are even more opportunity for young catcher Elias Diaz.

Diaz played on Monday, his 13th start in the last 16 games. He will be due for a share of the catching job next season assuming the Pirates decline their option on backup Chris Stewart.

Diaz’s defensive work and pitch calling have been works in progress, which is why Hurdle thinks this last month has been valuable.

“I think he’s shown growth,” Hurdle said. “I think it comes with confidence and playing time. It will be one of the best things that happens this month, his playing time and the experience he’s been able to gain.”

Different role

Hurdle said Tyler Glasnow will pitch in relief of Steve Brault Wednesday against Milwaukee.

Both Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington said this does not portend a move to the bullpen for Glasnow. They said it’s a matter of convenience to get him some innings.

Back in town

Monday’s ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by the man who is the answer to one of Pittsburgh’s great sports trivia questions:

“Who is the only person to play for both the Pirates and the Steelers?”

Rex Johnston, 79, returned kicks for the 1960 Steelers, then made 10 plate apperaces for the Pirates in 1964. He hadn’t been in Pittsburgh since 1964, but returned from California for the weekend at the urging of his three sons.

He and his sons attended Sunday’s Steelers game against Minnesota.

Former minor league teammate Steve Blass took the Johnstons out to dinner on Sunday evening. They also went to Oakland to see the portion of the Forbes Field outfield wall that still stands.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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