Cervelli sits, Bucs recall Stallings at catcher

August 12th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- With 's availability uncertain, the Pirates recalled catcher from Triple-A Indianapolis to provide depth behind the plate on Sunday.

Cervelli exited Saturday's 4-0 win over the Giants at AT&T Park in the fourth inning after being struck in the facemask by a foul tip earlier in the game. The Pirates said Cervelli was removed as a precaution, and he was able to enter Sunday's 4-3 loss as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.

"I tried to hit the ball today. I couldn't do it, but that's not because of the head," said Cervelli, who struck out swinging against left-hander Will Smith. "A couple days off, then let's go again."

To make room on the roster for Stallings, Pittsburgh optioned outfielder to Triple-A Indianapolis.

In the first inning on Saturday night, tipped a pitch from starter directly into Cervelli's mask. He remained in the game until the fourth, when catcher took his place. Diaz started Sunday's series finale against the Giants.

Cervelli said Posey's foul tip hit him hard but didn't cause dizziness or anything similar to his past head injuries. Cervelli has been on the disabled list twice this season due to a concussion or post-concussive symptoms. The Pirates did not place Cervelli on the seven-day concussion list on Sunday, but they will proceed carefully considering his previous concussions.

"We're going to continue to take as many precautionary measures as we can when he does take the field behind the plate and continue to be cautious as he does take foul balls off the mask or run into any other challenges," assistant general manager Kevan Graves said on KDKA-FM. "We're going to continue to do what's best for him and his long-term health and work closely with Cervy."

Cervelli has played well when healthy this season, hitting .257/.385/.465 with a career-high 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 73 games. The emergence of Diaz softens the blow of Cervelli's absence, however, as the 27-year-old has hit .293 with a .796 OPS and eight homers in 69 games this year.

The Pirates could at least consider the idea of carrying three catchers -- Cervelli, Diaz and Stallings -- the rest of the season to further protect Cervelli. That will be easier in September, after rosters expand from 25 to 40 players. But the versatility of , who can play second base or the outfield, and Cervelli's ability to play first base could free them up to make that move for the rest of August as well.

"We'll play it out and see how we go," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Around the horn

• The Pirates traded infielder/outfielder Christopher Bostick, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, to the Marlins for cash considerations. The Bucs acquired Bostick from the Nationals in September 2016, but he made only 34 plate appearances in 22 big league games over the past two years.

Bostick performed well in Triple-A Indianapolis, slashing .295/.351/.436 in 78 games this season. The 25-year-old has experience at second and third base, shortstop and all three outfield spots. The Pirates removed Bostick from their 40-man roster on Tuesday to make room for lefty reliever , and Sunday was their deadline to either trade or waive him.

• First baseman Josh Bell hit cleanup on Sunday for the first time since June 7. Manager Clint Hurdle said the Bucs moved up Bell to split up lefty hitters (batting third) and (fifth). But Bell has earned the bump back up the order by going 5-for-17 with two homers and a double in his first four games since returning from the disabled list on Wednesday.

Bell hit .315/.406/.486 in 46 games between starts in the cleanup spot.