Royals give backup catcher Erik Kratz a chance in the big leagues

07/29/2014 8:04 PM

07/29/2014 11:29 PM

Erik Kratz has built his career with patience.

The 34-year-old backup catcher did not make his first major-league start until four years ago with Philadelphia and has since been traded twice, including Monday’s move that brought him to Kansas City, but he says he’s just happy to have another opportunity.

“It was tough and not ideal, but not everyone has path,” Kratz said. “It wasn’t meant for me to be up there, and that doesn’t mean I wasn’t good enough. It just meant that it didn’t happen. They chose other people in front of me, but I was very blessed to get an opportunity.”

Kratz was most recently with the Blue Jays, where he played 34 games this season and was batting .299 with 10 doubles and three home runs for the Class AAA Buffalo Bisons.

“Kratz is a big guy,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He can catch, he can throw, and he can hit with power.”

The Royals also acquired right-hander Liam Hendriks in the trade, which sent infielder Danny Valencia to Toronto. Hendriks was optioned to Class AAA Omaha, and the team recalled Christian Colon for his second Major League stint of the season. Previously he went four for 12 with two doubles and a triple in six games. He was hitting .409 (18-for-44) in his last 10 games with the Storm Chasers.

“Christian provides depth in the middle of our infield,” Yost said. “Danny did a nice job at third base and could fill in for a short couple of innings at second, but Christian gives you more depth at second, short and third.”

Vargas getting closer

After watching left-hander Jason Vargas throw a four-inning simulated game before batting practice on Tuesday, Yost said he is getting closer to making a return.

“It went very well,” Yost said. “He had much more life on his pitches, much better command on his pitches.”

Vargas went on the disabled list on July 9th after an appendectomy and was eligible for reinstatement on July 24. Bruce Chen has stepped into his spot in the starting rotation.

“If he feels good tomorrow and feels good the next day, then I would say that he is really close to going back in,” Yost said.

Hosmer returns

With a little help from the team’s off-day, first baseman Eric Hosmer made his return to the starting lineup on Tuesday night. It was his second start in eight games since getting hit with a pitch on July 20 against Boston.

“I think the last day game against Cleveland I could have strapped it on and been ready to go, but they were real big on the two off days,” Hosmer said.

Prior to the injury, Hosmer was riding a 16-game hitting streak with a .417 (26-for-63) batting average and .603 slugging percentage.

Royals release Saunders

The Royals announced shortly before the game that they had released left-hander Joe Saunders from his minor-league contract. Saunders played four games with Class AAA Omaha this season.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com.

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