Longtime MLB catcher Francisco Cervelli announces retirement, citing health reasons


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Longtime MLB catcher Francisco Cervelli is retiring from baseball, he announced on Instagram. Cervelli said he is hanging up his spikes because it’s time to “put my health before my career.” The 34-year-old had seven documented concussions throughout his career, including one that ended his 2020 season in August.

Here is Cervelli’s retirement announcement:

“Today, I retire happy and fully satisfied, because I gave my heart and soul to this wonderful game,” Cervelli wrote. “I am retiring because the time has come to put my health before my career. For a long time, I put baseball first, through countless concussions and injuries, because this game was my life; my whole world. But it’s clear to me now that my future holds so much more. For the first time in a long time, I know my health and wellness needs to be the leadoff. It’s time.”

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Today, I want to share the difficult decision I’ve made to end my career as a professional baseball player. I feel it’s important to share this with you, the fans, because your support throughout my 18-year long career has meant so much – you helped make my journey possible.   During my career, I encountered injuries and made some bad decisions. But, I also learned so much. This game has brought me endless joy and happiness. I’ve received incredible support by so many, including countless teammates – my brothers in baseball – that I will carry in my heart forever. I also hold great pride in knowing that I strived to constantly make the impossible possible. My advice? Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your dreams. If I did it, you can do it too. Today, I retire happy and fully satisfied, because I gave my heart and soul to this wonderful game. I am retiring because the time has come to put my health before my career. For a long time, I put baseball first, through countless concussions and injuries, because this game was my life; my whole world. But it’s clear to me now that my future holds so much more. For the first time in a long time, I know my health and wellness needs to be the leadoff. It’s time. My journey in this game would be nothing without the exceptional people that have supported me along the way, personally and professionally. I thank God and my family for their unconditional love and support. To the Yankees, Pirates, Braves, Marlins, the MLB teams that gave a young kid from Venezuela a chance at this game, I am eternally grateful. To my coaches and teammates (too many to name) and my agent, thank you for pushing me to be the best ballplayer I could be. Lastly, to the fans… the Cisco Kid is nothing without you. Thank you for everything.   I will never forget all that this game has taught me. I wouldn’t trade the blood, sweat and tears for anything in the world. This game will always be my greatest love, because… well, THAT’S AMORE!

A post shared by Francisco Cervelli (@fran_cervelli) on

Cervelli originally signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old international free agent out of Venezuela in 2003. An infielder as an amateur, he moved behind the plate in pro ball and reached the big leagues in 2008. Cervelli spent 2008-14 with New York, mostly as a backup catcher, before moving on to the Pirates (2015-19), Braves (2019), and Marlins (2020).

Pittsburgh gave Cervelli his first extended opportunity as a starting catcher and he blossomed, hitting .270/.368/.384 with 25 home runs in 416 games from 2015-18. He also rated well as a pitch-framer and became a fan favorite thanks to his high-energy, hard-nosed style of play. Cervelli was released in Aug. 2019 after the Pirates committed to Jacob Stallings behind the plate.

Cervelli took a foul tip to the face mask on Aug. 22 this year and was diagnosed with a concussion. He landed on the injured list 15 times in parts of 13 seasons. Cervelli retires as a career .268/.358/.382 hitter with 605 hits and 41 home runs in 730 games. He won a World Series ring with the 2009 Yankees and banked nearly $40 million in player contracts during his career.

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