‘Good call to get’ makes veteran Erik Kratz the Rays’ newest new catcher

Rookie Anthony Bemboom is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a left knee sprain; Andrew Velazquez enjoys a surreal homecoming to New York.
Catcher Erik Kratz greets his new Rays teammates before their game against the Yankees on Friday, May 17, 2019, in New York. [FRANK FRANKLIN II   |   Associated Press]
Catcher Erik Kratz greets his new Rays teammates before their game against the Yankees on Friday, May 17, 2019, in New York. [FRANK FRANKLIN II | Associated Press]
Published May 17

NEW YORK — Erik Kratz was watching son Brayden’s Little League game in Harrisonburg, Va., on Thursday night when he got the call that he was the Rays’ newest new catcher.

Kratz, 39 next month, was acquired from the Giants, for a player to be named, after rookie Anthony Bemboom injured his left knee Wednesday. Manager Kevin Cash said that Bemboom is expected to be out 4-6 weeks with “a pretty good sprain” — but not a tear — of a ligament.

Given that Bemboom was pairing with Travis d’Arnaud, who was acquired last week, to replace the Rays’ top two catchers already injured, Mike Zunino and Michael Perez, they needed more help.

And they figured Kratz, on his 10th big-league team and with his 14th organization, had the experience to provide it.

“The one good thing is he has probably learned very well how to get up to speed on pitching staffs because he’s been all over the map,’’ Cash said.

Kratz, who played a key role for the Brewers last season but struggled after a March trade to the Giants, was designated for assignment on Monday.

Getting another chance, and on a contending team such as the Rays, was a pretty nice turn of events.

“It’s a good call to get,’’ he said. “I think we line up as a team here as one of the better teams in baseball. … At this stage in my career, I enjoy winning. There’s nothing getting in the way of winning here, and it’s exciting to be a part of.’’

Kratz and Brayden, 12, left after he got the call in the second inning. But that was already planned, to meet his wife at the school concert their two other kids, Ethan (10) and Avery (6), were in.

And, being somewhat experienced with changing teams, he made it to New York by 9:30 Friday morning and quickly got to work learning the pitching staff: “From February to October I pretty much stay packed.’’

Perez (oblique) and Zunino (quad) are progressing, though Perez, who is expected back first, is still weeks away. Cash the Rays opted to add Kratz rather than call up Nick Ciuffo because they want Ciuffo to keep playing regularly at Triple A.

Home game

Rays infielder/outfielder Andrew Velazquez was still having a little trouble processing the reality of being at Yankee Stadium as a player. That comes with being born, raised and still living in the same Bronx borough, used to practicing at the adjacent public fields, having family and friends who are rabid Yankees fans, and having your 10th birthday at the old stadium, proudly wearing a Yankees uniform.

“It still feels a little surreal,’’ he said.

Velazquez, 24, stayed at the family home Thursday and took his parents out to dinner at their Morris Park neighborhood Italian spot, Patricia’s. Among the thrills Friday was getting dropped off at the stadium and waking to the player entrance rather than going in the fan gates. “I never went in that way,’’ he said.


• After throwing back-to-back shutouts in Miami, the Rays’ scoreless streak ended at 19 when Kendrys Morales homered in the second.

• Righty Hunter Wood, out since May 2 with shoulder soreness, was sharper in his Thursday rehab outing with the Class A Stone Crabs, and Cash said he was “really close” to being ready with a decision “pretty soon.’’ … Infielder Matt Duffy (hamstring) is expected to keep rehabbing with the Crabs through the weekend, then move up next week to Triple-A Durham.

• Lefty prospect Brendan McKay worked six more scoreless innings for Double-A Montgomery on Thursday, giving him a 2-0, 1.51 record with 53 strikeouts and only eight walks in 35⅔ innings.

• Cash started his pregame media session noting the passing of longtime Tampa Bay area sports radio personality Steve Duemig: “You didn’t listen to sports radio in the bay area and not know who he was.’’