Kratz or Quintero? Ruiz’ return means Phils have to choose

Kratz or Quintero? Ruiz’ return means Phils have to choose
April 27, 2013, 1:30 pm
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NEW YORK – Carlos Ruiz will play in his final minor-league tune-up at Reading on Saturday night then make the trip to the Phillies’ team hotel in Manhattan. He is scheduled to be behind the plate for the Phillies in Sunday afternoon's game against the New York Mets.

Ruiz tested positive for a banned stimulant last September and was tagged with a 25-game suspension. The 34-year-old catcher had a career year in 2012 – he hit .325 (50 points above his career average) with 16 homers and 68 RBIs on his way to making his first all-star team – and his return will be beneficial to the lineup and the pitching staff that he so skillfully quarterbacks.

Ruiz’ return, however, creates a bit of a roster puzzle for club officials to figure out. They must subtract one of the backup catchers that helped the team get through the first 25 games.

So who goes?

Erik Kratz? Or Humberto Quintero?

“We have not made up our minds yet,” assistant GM Scott Proefrock said before Saturday afternoon’s game.

This is a tough call for club officials.

Kratz has gotten the bulk of the reps this month, but has hit just .191 with a .222 on-base percentage in 68 at-bats. Would that cost him the backup job he seemed to have won late last season?

Quintero got the start Saturday. He entered hitting .313, albeit in just 16 at-bats.

Offense is minor consideration when picking a backup catcher. Kratz and Quintero both throw well. Quintero has meshed well with Roy Halladay, which could be viewed as a plus for him staying. However, Halladay is huge Ruiz fan. There’s a chance he might not throw to a backup catcher the remainder of the season. Since connecting with pitchers is so important, it’s only fair to point out that Kratz was behind the plate for Kyle Kendrick’s shutout Friday night. That was the Phils’ first full complete game of the season. Halladay had one in a rain-shortened contest.

Contract and roster dynamics are another factor in the decision. Kratz has minor-league options and can be freely sent to Triple A and remain on reserve if needed. Quintero would have to clear waivers to be sent to Triple A. There’s a chance he’d clear, but there’s also a chance the Phils could lose him and the depth he provides.

The Phils must also consider their 40-man roster. While suspended, Ruiz did not count toward the 40-man roster. He must be added before Sunday’s game, meaning someone has to come off. That could be Quintero. If Quintero stays, the Phils would have to subtract someone else from the 40-man roster.

Decisions, decisions.

We’ll see how this thing plays out very shortly.

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