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Team Italy catcher Francisco Cervelli shines in debut for playoff-bound Atlanta Braves

Azzurri catcher Francisco Cervelli helped the first-place Atlanta Braves win their seventh consecutive game with three hits, including two doubles, and three RBI in a 9-5 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 24, 2019. Batting seventh in his debut for the Atlanta Braves as the replacement for injured catcher Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli played his first MLB game since suffering a concussion on May 25. It was the sixth documented concussion of his career and the third blow sustained in a year, raising concern in the Pittsburgh Pirates front office if he would ever catch for them again. Francisco Cervelli was granted his request for an unconditional release on August 22 so that he could sign with a team contending for the postseason. The Atlanta Braves signed him on August 24, and he went 3-for-5 that same day.

Just two months ago the 33-year-old Team Italy catcher was apprehensive about playing his usual position behind the plate. However, his mindset changed after therapy and finding a new lease on life in baseball. His uncertainty deteriorated and confidence built up after playing one Double-A game and five Triple-A games during a mid-August rehab assignment without experiencing any post-concussion symptoms. Francisco Cervelli said, "I was working at other positions and working very hard, but it’s boring for me. I’m not a baseball player. I’m a catcher. I’ve been doing it for 17 years and that’s what I’m going to do. My only mission here is to win. I’m wired that way." Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti