On July 7, Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghSports.com reported that Francisco Cervelli of the Pirates said he would not catch again due to being repeatedly concussed. Cervelli would continue to pursue his baseball career by switching positions.
On Friday, Cervelli denied having said that.
That's a pretty serious accusation. Cervelli is saying that Kovacevic made it up.
Kovacevic's big error: He didn't tape Cervelli.
But Cervelli is obviously lying.
Kovacevic has never been accused of something like this before. That's in 30-plus years of journalism.
If Kovacevic were going to make something up after three decades or so, why would it be a minor story about a fading talent?
Why did Cervelli wait five days to deny his quotes? Why not right away?
Here's what probably happened:
Cervelli said what he was quoted as saying. His agent said, "Are you nuts? You're a free agent at season's end. You're damaging your marketability." Cervelli is 33. His only value is as a catcher. No new team will want to shepherd him through a position change. His hitting doesn't justify that.
So Cervelli backpedaled. (Maybe he could switch to the outfield.)
Perhaps Cervelli delayed his denial because he didn't know what to do, or didn't want to lie.
But Cervelli did lie.
Cervelli has been suspended for using PEDs. So we know for sure he's a cheat.
Kovacevic's mistake was not taping Cervelli's words, which makes the controversy into he-said, he said.
In 1996, I covered the Penguins-New York Rangers second-round playoff series for the Post-Gazette. Before the series, I talked to Penguins defenseman Sergei Zubov. Prior to the season, he and Petr Nedved had been acquired from the Rangers for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson.
Robitaille made $2.5 million that season - big money at the time. He scored 23 goals.
Zubov said, "Robitaille should score more goals considering how much he makes." (Or words to that effect. I can't find the story.) I wrote it. It created a stir.
Zubov got pissed, and confronts me. Zubov says, "I never said that."
So I played Zubov the tape of him saying it.
Zero debate. Always tape interviews.
I give Zubov credit: At least he came to me, instead of burying me to other media behind my back. Cervelli isn't just a liar and a drugs cheat. He's a coward, too.
But Cervelli has the unconditional support of the Pittsburgh baseball media. See how they stooge.
Courtesy of Getty Images.