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It's Good To Have A Frankie

Francisco Cervelli took exception to getting plunked in the back on Tuesday.
Francisco Cervelli took exception to getting plunked in the back on Tuesday.

If you've followed the career arc of Francisco Cervelli even a little, you knew hitting a ball over the Green Monster during a pennant race was going to conjure up emotions he'd have zero ability to harness.

Cervelli, the Yankees' fiery Venezuelan reserve catcher, is like the unpredictable cousin you reluctantly bring to a work friend's party. You spend the next four hours praying he doesn't say or do something to put someone off, and when he inevitably does, you can't even get mad at him. It's just Frankie being Frankie.

Cervelli is a fringe player in every respect, and with Jesus Montero knocking loudly at the door, he may not be long for Yankee Universe. Hell, the team nearly traded him to the Pirates last month in a deal that would've brought back Brad Lincoln, a young right-handed reliever with a career ERA of 5.66. This tells you a lot in terms of where the catcher stands in his own organization.

But Cervelli has value to this Yankees team that goes beyond his middling talent level. When Cervelli steps on the field, he brings with him an attitude that's downright refreshing after two decades of buttoned-up Yankees baseball. It's always good to have that one guy who has the innate ability to piss off the opposing team and its fanbase. It's makes rooting for your team more fun.

David Ortiz has made a career of taunting the Yankees and their fans with slow trots, pointing, bat flips, and all the general buffoonery that's come to define the Big Papi Experience. When he finally got drilled by a fastball following a particularly egregious home run celebration in July, Ortiz himself pointed out that the plunking was the direct result of a media blitz designed to put him in his place.

Ortiz is a pest, which coincidentally is the term NESN announcer Jerry Remy uses to describe Cervelli. He lived up to that name Tuesday night after an exaggerated slap of his hands as he touched home plate following his homer.

The slap was right under the nose of Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and it didn't go unnoticed by the always-personable John Lackey, who drilled Cervelli in the back his next time up. The benches cleared and both sides were warned.

"I don’t remember (what was said)," Cervelli said about the fallout of his HBP, according to LoHud. "A lot of Spanish. At that moment, I forgot my English. But it’s part of the game, I’ve got a lot of energy."

That he does, and it seems to be infectious. When Saltalamacchia reached on a disputed hit by pitch in the ninth inning, Girardi nearly blew the third-base umpire away with an angry tirade that got him tossed. It's good to see these things, and you wonder how much our crazy cousin has to do with it.

When asked about his signature fist pumps after Boone Logan's huge strikeout of Darnell McDonald in the seventh inning, Cervelli provided a brief answer that seemed to sum up his entire existence in four syllables.

"That’s Cervelli."

That's a third-person reference, people! He may not play like Rickey Henderson, but Cervelli's value is greater than the sum of his parts.

Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at or on Twitter @danhanzus.