- TORONTO -- The last time Francisco Cervelli was here, he was guiding the pitchers from the Italian team in the World Baseball Classic. Italy did not advance past the first round, but it scored an early upset by knocking out Canada.
Cervelli is from Venezuela, but he represented Italy because his father was born there. He has never been to Italy but plans to take his parents there next winter, to see the sights and meet up with his former teammates.
One of Cervelli's coaches in the Classic was Mike Piazza, who praised his defense after the upset of Canada.
"He's so talented back there, you can't say enough," Piazza said. "He worked hard back there. His enthusiasm, you could tell. I remember one time, Roy Campanella told me years ago, 'Everybody looks at you behind the plate, and when you drag, your body language is important because every fielder and the pitcher sees it.'
"His enthusiasm from the start of the game was just sky-high. He hustled. He's got an amazing arm. I'm jealous -- in a good way - because I see a player with a great future ahead of him. He's going to get better with the bat. He's going to get a little quicker."
Joe Girardi is highly complimentary about Cervelli's defense, too. About the bat ... Well, it would be unkind to say that Cervelli is 23 and has a real good chance of being 24. Instead, let's just say that players usually improve until they hit their late 20s, so Cervelli does have a solid shot of getting better with the bat. Right now, though? He's never played an inning of Triple-A ball. He's played only 37 games in Double-A. His Class A stats were solid but hardly overpowering. There's a decent chance that once Jorge Posada and Jose Molina are healthy, we might never seen Cervelli again.
So let's enjoy him while we know we can.