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AL East Notes: Kratz, Dolis, Orioles, Nunez

The goal this year is to win a gold medal and win a World Series. That would be a pretty good year, right?Erik Kratz rhetorically asked The Athletic’s Rustin Dodd (subscription required), as the veteran catcher is hoping to achieve what could be an unprecedented double in professional and Olympic baseball.  Kratz was a member of the United States national baseball team’s roster last November, acting as both a player and an experienced mentor to a roster comprised mostly of minor leaguers and some of the sport’s top prospects (including Jo Adell, Andrew Vaughn, Alec Bohm and more).  The U.S. team will participate in an Olympic qualifying tournament later this month, and while the roster has yet to be announced, Kratz would seem like a solid bet based on his performance last November.

If potentially participating in the Tokyo Games wasn’t enough, there is also Kratz’s role as a depth catcher for the Yankees, as the 39-year-old signed a minor league deal with New York during the offseason.  Kratz is entering his 19th year of pro ball and is hopeful of getting some playing time at the MLB level, which would give him appearances in parts of 11 different Major League seasons.  It might also get him a World Series ring, given how the Yankees are expected to contend for a title in 2020.  A championship would be a nice milestone in Kratz’s career, though the journeyman plans to keep playing for as long as possible.  “I know I appreciate every day.  I’ve felt like it could be my last season for the last 12 seasons,” Kratz said.

More from around the AL East…

  • Blue Jays right-hander Rafael Dolis will miss at least a week of action after having his appendix removed (MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson was among those to report the news).  Dolis will be re-evaluated after that first week, and it is possible the righty might not be ready for Opening Day.  After last pitching in the majors in 2013, Dolis revived his career with four impressive seasons in Japan, and signed a one-year, Major League contract with Toronto this winter.
  • Orioles manager Brandon Hyde updated reporters (including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com) on a few injury situations in camp.  Jose Iglesias and Ramon Urias are both day-to-day with a quad injury and shin splits, respectively.  Tommy Milone has a trap injury, with Hyde hoping that Milone can throw a side session within the next day or two.  Righty Evan Phillips has been dealing with some soreness in his throwing elbow and underwent an MRI that “came back as nothing serious,” Hyde said, though Phillips is getting a second opinion today out of due diligence.
  • In another piece from Kubatko, he notes that Renato Nunez has been diligently working out at third base this spring.  Nunez was mostly restricted to DH duties in 2019, though it should be noted that some metrics give Nunez average (0 Defensive Runs Saved) to very good (+9.5 UZR/150) grades over his 606 2/3 career innings as a third baseman.  The Orioles don’t need Nunez to wield a Brooks Robinson-esque glove at the hot corner, however, as Nunez would only be deployed as a platoon partner with Rio Ruiz.  That would create more DH at-bats for other members of the Baltimore roster, including potentially top prospect Ryan Mountcastle.  Kubatko also observes that Nunez would gain more value to the Orioles as a potential trade chip if he shows that he handle a regular defensive position.

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