Cervelli out as Molina returns from DL

Cervelli out as Molina returns from DL

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees anticipated the success of Francisco Cervelli no more than they did that of Ramiro Pena, whom they reluctantly shipped off to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this month. And so on Wednesday, when the time came to send Cervelli to the Minors as well, the Yankees did so with an audible sigh.

"Kind of like Pena didn't deserve to go down, Cervelli doesn't deserve to go down," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he's got a real bright future."

Just not an immediate future with the Yankees. Prior to Wednesday's game against the Twins, the team optioned Cervelli to Triple-A and activated Jose Molina, who spent the past two months on the disabled list with a strained left quad.

As well as Cervelli played during that time, the Yankees traded for Molina two years ago to be their backup catcher, and they're paying him handsomely to fulfill that role. As soon as next season, Cervelli could be the primary backup -- Girardi said on Tuesday that he even considered Cervelli a future starter in the big leagues.

But for now, Cervelli will wait.

"I told him to look at what our team did when he was here," Girardi said. "I don't think that was any accident. I think he had a lot to do with that."

Most impressive has been Cervelli's ability to handle the Yankees pitching staff -- specifically his fearlessness calling audibles for established veterans such as CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. But at 23 years old, Cervelli cannot yet match Molina's offensive production. And so for now, the Yankees feel that they are better served with Molina playing in games that Jorge Posada does not start.

For Molina, it's been a frustrating road back to the Yankees. Originally placed on the DL after straining his quad in early May, Molina suffered a major setback during his first rehabilitation assignment, effectively doubling his recovery time.

Finally fully healed, Molina flew to Minnesota on Wednesday after completing his latest Minor League rehab assignment. Girardi said he plans to start Molina at some point this weekend in Anaheim.

"I couldn't wait to get on the plane this morning," Molina said. "I was trying to tell the pilot to hurry up. It feels great to just be part of the team again."

But the concerns regarding Molina's leg have not entirely disappeared. Quads, like hamstrings, are notorious for remaining fragile after they've been injured. Having effectively damaged his left quad twice already this season, Molina will always be at risk for a relapse.

"I don't believe in worrying," Molina said. "If I worry about my leg, it could happen again. I don't even think like that anymore. I'm good right now -- that's what matters."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.