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Francisco Cervelli interview: “I’ve wanted this forever”

The Venezuelan catcher is excited to work with the Marlins’ group of young pitchers in what will be his 13th MLB season.

MLB: Miami Marlins-Workouts Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Catcher Francisco Cervelli is one of the most recent pickups from the Marlins front office. “Cisco” was inked to a majors deal for the 2020 season, making $2MM. Since formal pitchers and catchers workouts began on Wednesday at big league camp in Jupiter, he’s been getting familiar with his new teammates.

Even though the Venezuelan doesn’t know whether he’ll be Jorge Alfaro’s backup or a serious competitor for everyday duties, he recognizes that he has arrived at a critical point in his career.

“This is a big challenge. I’ve wanted this forever. When I played for the Yankees, I always said that I wanted a young group of pitchers so that I can guide them,” Cervelli said in an interview with El Extrabase.

“They teach me to be a leader and to listen every day,” he continued, “because sometimes we believe that a leader is the one that always speaks and never listens. This is a good time, in which I don’t know a lot of people and I need to watch and listen until I earn the right to speak.”

The 33-year-old veteran, who’ll be 34 on March 6, has always been known for being a true leader for pitchers, providing additional value with his great defensive and pitch-framing abilities behind the plate. He was part of the 2009 Yankees team that won the World Series and established himself as Jorge Posada’s replacement in New York.

Posada is now on the Marlins’ side as a special advisor to baseball operations, working along with CEO Derek Jeter, an old friend in his days as a Yankee.

“I don’t know to do anything but what they taught me. One of my greatest mentors was Jorge,” Cervelli added.

“But I have [Marlins vice president of player development and scouting] Gary Denbo over here. He’s been by my side since I was a minor leaguer. Gary likes to do things the right way and I like that. If you want an organization to become a world-class team, you gotta do things right.”

Cervelli is coming from a 2019 season that he spent with the Pirates and the Braves. First, he struggled in his last days with Pittsburgh, but then joined Atlanta and had a nice 14-game stretch, in which he slashed .281/.378/.688, along with eight extra-base hits.

The Valencia native only took “a 10-day vacation after the playoffs” and then dedicated entirely to getting in shape for the coming 2020 season.

His first days as a Marlin? So far, so good.

“I’ve felt really good, like a kid being again on the field with a new team, as a rookie. I’ve been working, getting to know people, and doing my thing. It’s a huge challenge.

“These guys are hungry to make their dreams come true.”