Cervelli may return from concussion today

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — Francisco Cervelli, who last played on June 21, could be back in the Pirates’ lineup today.

Cervelli has been on the concussion disabled list since taking a foul ball of his mask during the weekend of June 8.

“I’m good, I’m good now,” he said before Saturday afternoon’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to play some baseball and play hard and keep doing what I was doing.”

Cervelli played for another week after the foul ball struck him. Finally, though, he reported the symptoms to the training staff and went on the DL.

Cervelli has had several concussions in his career, including the time he spent with the New York Yankees before he came to the Pirates.

“Sometimes you don’t know what’s going to happen when you get hit like that,” Cervelli said.

About a week later, Cervelli said he noticed he was having problems.

“I could not perform,” he said. “It was not me. I was not myself. Probably for the first time, I said I can’t do it. I need some time. I wasn’t able to compete the right way.”

Cervelli said he was trying to “play Superman” and “this time it didn’t happen.”

Elias Diaz has filled in capably during his absence, but the Pirates will be better when they can have both of their catchers.

Cervelli’s mother has been in town to help him recover. He said he would do daily eye exercises. He said his mother won’t go home until they feel he is playing well again.

“She’s the one who picks me up all the time,” he said. “She puts me in the right place. I’m lucky.”

Cervelli, whose average was .283 on May 31, batted just .162 in June.

Roster shuffle

It was two pitchers in and two out for the Pirates on Saturday.

Dovydas Neverauskus and Josh Smoker were sent to Class AAA Indianapolis and replaced by Michael Feliz and righthander Alex McRae.

Feliz was reinstated from the disabled list, where he landed on June 24 with right shoulder inflammation.

In 11 games since May 23, Feliz had a 9.95 earned run average and put 26 runners on base in 12 ª innings. He gave up four home runs.

McRae, 25, has no previous major league experience. He was a non-roster player in spring training. He has pitched in 17 games at Indianapolis (starting all but one) with a 3-7 record and 4.61 ERA.

He had allowed just one earned run in 12 ª innings at Indianapolis. McRae was a 10th round pick in the 2014 draft and was 10-5 with a 3.61 ERA for the Curve last year.

Neverauskus’ latest stay with the Pirates lasted five days. Smoker was with the team for four days.

Kuhl update

Starter Chad Kuhl will get a second opinion on the forearm strain that has him on the disabled list.

Kuhl last pitched on June 26, when he said he felt something “grab” in his arm. He left the game after four innings.

“I still think I’m fine structurally, but there’s something going on,” he said.

Kuhl has not thrown since he went on the DL. He has done exercises to maintain shoulder strength. The Pirates have not announced a timetable for him.

“We’re still working through a lot of stuff,” Kuhl said. “We’re just waiting to see what the doctors say.”

Kuhl said he had a similar feeling in 2016 after maling an awkward throw to first base. He said he was fine after taking a couple of weeks off.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com