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Cervelli vows to battle back

Francisco Cervelli’s 25th birthday will be very much like his 24th, and his 23rd, and his 22nd. His mother and sister and other family members will be with him, having made the trip to Tampa from their homes in Venezuela.

And Cervelli will be injured, having broken his foot on Wednesday, an injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for the first month of the regular season.

"Every year on my birthday, something happens," Cervelli said Saturday morning after crutching his way to his locker on Backstop Row at the far side of the Yankees clubhouse. "Spring training is never clean for me."

Three years ago, Cervelli broke his wrist in spring training. Two years ago, he came down with pneumonia. Last year, on his birthday -- which is Mar. 6 -– he got beaned and suffered a concussion.

But this year is different. After coming to camp in the best shape of his life, the result of following a rigorous weight-lifting regimen with Robby Cano in the Dominican Republic this offseason, Cervelli was gearing up for a battle with Jesus Montero and Austin Romine for the backup catcher’s job.

He added a lot more muscle, and hit well this spring, 3-for-5 with a double. But no amount of training can strengthen the fragile bones of the foot, which fractured behind his toes after he fouled a ball off his instep in the second inning of a game.

“Nobody expects something like that,’’ Cervelli said. “Yesterday morning I thought it was a bruise, because it never was swollen, not real pain, and they told me it’s broke. What can I do?’’

Cervellis foot will be immobilized in a boot for a minimum of four weeks, and he will be re-examined by a foot specialist next week. But still it appears that by default the backup catcher’s job will wind up in the hands either of Montero or Romine.

“I’m not gonna cry cause somebody's gonna take my job,’’ Cervelli said. “No. Every year I have to fight for something, and I’m gonna fight again to come back, charge back, that’s it. A lot of people in the world, they don’t have legs, they don’t have arms. I’m healthy. I just got something in my foot. It’s gonna be OK.’’

Cervelli said he will remain with the team during spring training, attempt to maintain his upper-body training schedule and even, if possible, try to throw while in the boot. “I’ll find a way,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, he will celebrate another birthday surrounded by his family and swathed in bandages.

“It’s good to have my family with me,’’ he said. “But I think I gonna change my birthday now. Or (the calendar). It’s gonna be January, February, then April. No more March. Unbelievable.’’

NOTES: Montero will start at catcher for today’s game against the Nationals (1:05 p.m., WCBS-AM 880). CC Sabathia makes his second start of the spring, to be followed by Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Ryan Pope and Romulo Sanchez. Jorge Vazquez, the 10-year Mexican League veteran who has hit the cover off the ball this spring, gets his first start of the spring at first base. Eric Chavez gets his first start at third base. Ex-Yankee Chad Gaudin starts for the Nationals. Bryce Harper, the outfielder the Nationals made the No. 1 pick in the nation in 2010 (Stephen Strasburg was their 2009 No. 1) is not in the starting lineup but is here and expected to play.