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Pirates activate Francisco Cervelli, option Edgar Santana

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have activated catcher Francisco Cervelli and he’s in the starting lineup tonight in Philadelphia.

Cervelli was out with concussion symptoms that necessitated two separate trips to the disabled list. He suffered the concussion on June 6 and went on the 7-day concussion disabled list the next day. He returned and started four games from June 14 through June 19, then went back on the DL with recurrent symptoms. He also was struggling with some sort of viral illness. Cervelli has suffered at least three concussions during his career, so there’s obviously a concern about his long-term future at catcher. Concussions forced teammate John Jaso to move from the position.

To make room, the Pirates have optioned right-handed reliever Edgar Santana to AAA. Santana showed that he has major league stuff, striking out 14.1 batters per nine innings, but ten hits and five walks in 7.2 IP showed he still has to make some improvements.

The move returns the Pirates to a five-man bench, albeit with three catchers. Given the fragility of both Cervelli and Chris Stewart, it’s not out of the question that the team could carry Elias Diaz indefinitely.

Santana’s departure means the team will have to make some use of Antonio Bastardo. The bullpen now features Bastardo (8.63 xFIP), Tony Watson (4.72), Daniel Hudson (4.77), Wade LeBlanc (3.83, 13 ER in last 11.2 IP), and Jhan Marinez (4.18 with Pirates, 4.54 overall). Except for Marinez, who never figured to make much of an impact, this is the same bullpen with which the Pirates opened the season. That’s startling when you consider what a disaster the team’s relief pitching has been. For some reason, though, the front office, while maintaining that they’re not giving up on the season, shows no inclination to address the problem.