NEW YORK -- There are still moments late at night, Francisco Cervelli said, when his thoughts flash back to this time last year: the long bus rides, aging Triple-A stadiums and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's seemingly never-ending road schedule.
This, Cervelli would agree, is better. Cervelli has been seeing regular duty behind the plate for the Yankees, and while manager Joe Girardi is stopping short of calling him the everyday catcher, Cervelli will continue to make a majority of the starts there.
"It's amazing, huh?" Cervelli said. "God always has a different plan for you. Sometimes we don't understand what's the plan at the moment, but right now, I understand. I'm going to keep working."
When Cervelli huddled with Chris Stewart and the rest of the Yankees' catchers this spring, Girardi stressed that the team was emphasizing defense behind the plate, and any offense provided would be a bonus.
Cervelli continued to show improvement while working with the pitching staff, particularly with his throwing, but he has also been an unexpected surprise at the plate. Cervelli entered play on Wednesday batting .360 (9-for-25) with one double, one homer and six RBIs in nine games.
"His at-bats have been good," Girardi said. "He's been patient, he's hit the ball with some authority and I saw that in Spring Training. We had a lot of opportunities to watch him play. ... He's gotten his pitch, and he hasn't missed it."
Girardi has hesitated when asked about naming an everyday catcher this year, a noticeable contrast after he left no doubt that Stewart was Russell Martin's backup last year. But on Wednesday, Girardi offered arguably his strongest endorsement of Cervelli as the Yanks' regular catcher.
"Cervy has caught a good portion of the games," Girardi said. "He's not an everyday [catcher], but if you catch three out of five, four out of five in certain rotations, that's an everyday guy. I have given him more than what we originally did. If he continues to shine, he'll continue to get more."
A career .276 hitter in the big leagues, Cervelli said that he believes playing in the Venezuelan Winter League improved all facets of his game, including his offense.
"It's a tough league in Venezuela, especially because you see the starting pitcher maybe one at-bat, two at-bats, and then the rest of the game you're going to see relievers," Cervelli said. "You have to make your own adjustments. I'm just looking for consistency, like I always say. I don't want to be a good hitter for one week. I just want to be consistent for the whole season."
Tex cleared to swing, hopes to return in May
NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has been cleared to resume swinging a bat, the first step of what promises to be a deliberate process in rejoining the big league lineup.
Teixeira swung a bat underwater in the therapy pool at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and reported no problems with his right wrist, which he has been rehabilitating from a partially torn tendon sheath.
The switch-hitter said that he would take about 20 dry swings from both sides of the plate on Wednesday, and he's cautiously optimistic that he will be able to rejoin the Yankees' active roster in May.
"It's great. I started the process," Teixeira said. "It's all going to depend on how I feel now. I started very light yesterday, and it'll just be slow moving and hopefully feels good every day. We'll see where I am in a week or so on the next road trip."
"All the news that we've gotten has been encouraging," manager Joe Girardi said. "The real test is going to come when he starts taking BP and gets into games where the intensity is cranked up and you can't really guard what you're doing. I am encouraged that we've gotten this far."
Teixeira said that if the dry swings present no setback, his next days will involve progressing to hitting off a tee, soft toss, indoor batting practice and then finally hitting on the field.
Teixeira is hoping to take batting practice this weekend at Rogers Centre in Toronto. He will travel with the club to Florida and then continue working out at the Yankees' Tampa, Fla., training complex when the big league club plays against the Rays starting next Monday.
For the moment, Teixeira said just being able to swing a bat without discomfort is a good step.
"It's awesome," Teixeira said. "I have a bat in my office at home, and every time I check my e-mail or get something in my office, I kind of pick it up and just twirl it around a little bit. I haven't had a bat in my hand in a long time. It's very tough. It's great to have a bat in your hand again."
Cano, Tex receive Gold Glove Awards
NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira picked up some hardware on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, as the infielders received their 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards in an on-field ceremony.
The Gold Glove Award was Teixeira's fifth and Cano's second. Teixeira committed just one error in 1,055 total chances last season, owning a .999 fielding percentage to surpass Don Mattingly's franchise-record .998 mark for first basemen set in 1994.
Cano led all American League second basemen with 726 chances last year, finishing second in the league to Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox with a .992 fielding percentage while committing just six errors.
The awards were officially announced last October.
• Andy Pettitte threw another bullpen on Wednesday and said that he expects to have no problem making his start as scheduled on Friday against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Pettitte was sidelined as a precaution after he experienced back spasms following a flight home from Cleveland last week.
• Yankees captain Derek Jeter took ground balls and batting practice at the club's training complex in Tampa, Fla., again on Wednesday.
• Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda threw a live batting practice session of 35 pitches, split into two parts, on Tuesday. The outing was Pineda's third BP session, and a return to the big leagues in late May or early June remains possible. Also on Tuesday, left-hander Cesar Cabral pitched a scoreless inning in his second extended spring outing.
• On this date in 1951, Bob Sheppard announced his first lineup at the original Yankee Stadium, a batting order against the Red Sox that included Mickey Mantle playing his first Major League game. Mantle went 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning single off Bill Wight.
On this date in 1953, Mantle hit a home run off the Senators' Chuck Stobbs at Washington's Griffith Stadium that was estimated at 565 feet. Yankees PR representative Red Patterson said that he retrieved the ball and paced off the distance, giving birth to the phrase "tape-measure home run."