A few hours before the first pitch, the Clippers are out on the field warming up and taking batting practice. Erik Kratz is out there getting ready to take his turn at the plate, talking with his teammates, laughing, and having a good time. The 36-year-old catcher has had quite a few teammates throughout his career. In fact, Kratz has been with ten organizations in the previous two seasons.
“I’ve been fortunate," Kratz said, "Guys have given me the opportunity to play in so many different places, that I’m just gonna be myself, I’m gonna try to work as hard as I can and be ready in the place that I’m at. And I can’t control anything else. If someone trades me, I get called up, I get sent down, whatever it is, I can’t control that. But I can control my work, my preparation, and what kind of teammate I am. My goal at the end of the day is that I was a good teammate to the guys that I was with.”
The catcher enjoys playing against past teammates and tries to keep in contact with friends that he has made throughout his time with different teams.
“I try to keep in contact with people, but its also something that, playing against my ex-teammates, I want nothing more than to have more success against my ex-teammates, guys that I can text,” Kratz explained with a smile on his face.
And when asked if he actually does text them after the game, the veteran catcher couldn’t hold back a grin.
“Oh, for sure! Definitely! Definitely, to me I think that’s the competitive, but also honest nature of who I am," Kratz admitted, "They know that if I shoot 'em, or if I throw 'em out, or if I even get a single off 'em, I'm gonna let you know about it. It's in good fun, but in no way am I going to take it easier on an ex-teammate. It’s the game. Once the whistle blows, its time to play.”
While Kratz has moved around quite a bit, he did spend some time in the majors with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Toronto, Kansas City, and Houston. With how hot he has been at the plate since the start of the season, he may get an opportunity to add the Indians to his list of professional teams. The catcher said if he were given the opportunity, he wouldn’t change a thing from his previous times in the big league.
“Not a bit, I mean, you could say, oh you wanna have more success, but like I said the results are out of your hands," the 36-year-old explained, "I think the times that I’ve been in the big leagues I’ve given it everything I have. And you learn from past times that you’ve failed, but you also learn from past successes too.”
When asked about his impressive start to the season, his answer showed that he is only focusing on the upcoming games.
“You gotta come into the games no matter what the previous games results were," said Kratz, "You gotta come into them like it’s a new game. The scoreboard is just a chronical of what’s happened in the past, it's not what’s gonna happen, and so its something that you have to, no matter what it is, positive or negative, you have to go out there the next day and grind it out.”
His stats can’t go unnoticed, though, hitting .447 in 38 at bats, with 7 runs, 6 RBI’s and 4 home runs. However, Kratz had a simple explanation for why he’s been able to get on base so often.
“You get hits when the other team doesn’t catch the ball,” he laughed, “I know that sounds too simple, but last year, other years that I’ve struggled, other years that I’ve had success, its just a matter of the ball falling or the ball not falling. It’s all about the work I put in, its all about the preparation and putting myself in a position, being prepared for the game, to go out and play. The results are completely out of my hands.”
Skipper Chris Tremie not only talked about how important Kratz has been on offense, but also mentioned how much he means to the Clippers’ young pitching staff.
“Erik’s a veteran player that’s been playing for a long time," the Clippers manager explained, "He already has and will continue to help out our staff, especially some of our younger pitchers. He’s swung the bat well, defensively he has played very well and he can do a lot of things besides just throwing the ball or hitting the ball or catching the ball. He’s gonna be valuable for us.”
It has been an exciting start to the season for Kratz, and after just a brief conversation with him, you can see the passion and love he has for this game. While he may have played for many teams throughout his career, there is no doubt that the Columbus Clippers are happy to have him as a part of the team. He is also a player that Cleveland Indians fans need to keep an eye on.