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Roster Moves: Cervelli’s latest blow to the head ripples through the system

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

C Francisco Cervelli to the 7-day injured list, C Jacob Stallings recalled, UT Jake Elmore DFA’d, UT Jose Osuna recalled

In the fourth inning on Saturday night Joc Pederson’s bat snapped in two on a foul ball, with the barrel continuing back around, striking catcher Francisco Cervelli on the jaw. After being examined for a few minutes, Cervelli stayed in to finish the inning on defense but took himself out of the game as he started to take his turn at bat the next inning.

Faced with a double-header on Monday and no off days any time soon, the Pirates needed a healthy second catcher as soon as possible, and wasted no time in placing Cervelli on the seven-day concussion list before Sunday’s game.

To take Cervelli’s spot, the Pirates purchased the contract of Jacob Stallings, for several years the third catcher on the depth chart, Stallings made the Opening Day roster for the first time this spring while Elias Diaz was out with a viral infection, but played in only three games, going 3-for-11, before Diaz returned. In parts of four seasons, Stallings has played in 28 games for the Pirates, with a batting line of 286/325/325. In Triple-A in the same four season, he’s played 225 games and batted 265/314/408, including 275/327/569 this year. Stallings’ Oliver projection for the remainder of the season is 228/282/355, including 266/308/430 vs left-handed pitchers and 212/271/324 vs right-handers.

Another player needed to be dropped from the 40 man major league roster to make room for Stallings, and the axe fell on utility man Jake Elmore. He’d batted 380/446/546 in 121 Triple-A plate appearances before being recalled, but in Pittsburgh managed only one hit in 20 at bats. A career 294/392/377 hitter in 605 Triple-A games, it never transferred to the majors, where he’s hit 208/285/269 in 498 PA’s spread over six seasons. At age 32, his rest-of-season 232/311/306 projection was eminently replaceable. If Elmore clears waivers he could elect to become a free agent rather than return to Indianapolis.

Then in need of a bat off the bench, the team recalled right-handed batting Jose Osuna, who can play all four corner position in the infield and outfield. It will be Osuna’s first appearance on the Pirates’ roster in 2019, after playing parts of the previous two season, compiling a 231/263/417 batting line in 338 PAs. Osuna was hitting 253/333/429 in 24 minor league games, and has hit 300/358/483 in 174 Triple-A games. His rest of season projection is 251/302/412, expected to do much better against left-handed pitchers (269/315/469) than righties (244/297/390) which may earn him some starts at third base, replacing left-handed swinging Colin Moran, who projects only 226/284/321 vs left-handers.

The Pirates would be expected to make some related minor league moves, as Indianapolis now short two regular players after losign Elmore a couple weeks earlier.