Cervelli returns from disabled list

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — See if this sounds familiar: Francisco Cervelli returned to the Pirates’ lineup Thursday after missing time because of concussion-related issues.

Cervelli batted third and caught as the Pirates opened a homestand against the New York Mets.

“Back again,” he said with a smile. “Round three.”

This is indeed another return from the concussion disabled list, where Cervelli has landed four times in the past two seasons.

He was on the list earlier this season, then came back after he recovered. In four games, he was hit in the head by four foul tips.

“He also caught the back swing from a bat,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

The cumulative effect caught up with Cervelli, and he reported his symptoms to the training staff.

What does it feel like when that many blows to the head pile up in a relatively short period of time?

“Weird,” Cervelli said. “Like a hangover. I had headaches or feel like I want to throw up. It’s not right, so I had to tell them.”

Athletes will sometimes keep quiet about an injury and try to play through it. There’s been enough attention focused on concussions over the last few years that toughing it out isn’t an option for most players.

“It’s something that’s real,” Cervelli said. “It’s not funny when you wake up and feel like that for days. I’m going to do what I have to do to be healthy again, especially after baseball.”

Cervelli indicated he would attempt to talk to hockey and football players to compare notes on concussion experiences.

In the meantime, he will attempt to play and avoid trouble. But he knows that’s mostly a matter of fate.

He said the only way to be certain of avoiding concussions is, “watch the game from the stands. Or stay home and watch on TV. That’s the only way. What happened last time was bad luck. Now I feel good.”

Elsewhere:

n Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte were not in the starting lineup, but they weren’t on the disabled list either.

Dickerson had some discomfort in a hamstring, an injury that came up in the first game of the series at Cleveland. In Wednesday’s series finale, Marte was hit on the left hand by a pitch in his first plate appearance and left the game.

Jordan Luplow started in left field in place of Dickerson, and Sean Rodriguez played center field.

The Pirates offered no update on the injured players other than saying their availability is a day-to-day proposition.

Luplow batted leadoff because Hurdle said he wanted to disrupt the rest of the lineup as little as possible.

“There comes a point in time where I’m looking for some stabilization rather than moving five or six guys,” Hurdle said. “(Plus Luplow) has usable speed and some barrel to his bat.”

The Pirates have used 11 different players in the leadoff spot so far this season.

n The Pirates’ 11-game winning streak pulled them closer in the wild card race, but didn’t settle anything.

“This group shows up, prepares, works hard,” Hurdle said. “I believe we’re capable of going out and playing good baseball. You’re a good club. Go play like that. That’s what they’re able to embrace.”

After Thursday, the Pirates still have 58 games left, a little more than one third of the season.

“We have a long way to go,” Hurdle said. “We’re still figuring things out.”

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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