Kratz killing the ball


TAMPA — Hoping to make a good impression on management this spring, catcher Erik Kratz is off to a good start.

This afternoon, Kratz ripped a two-run double in the seventh inning of the 6-3 loss against the New York Yankees. He alertly went to third on an errant relay throw and scored the tying run on Ryan Church’s groundout. Yesterday, Kratz hit a solo homer against the State College of Florida.

“He’s a threat at the plate and he’s catching very well,” manager John Russell said. “He’s picked up where he left off last year, when he put himself on the map. He had a very solid Triple-A season and he’s doing a good job so far here.”

This is Kratz’s second time in Pirates camp as a non-roster invitee. Last season, Kratz, 29, batted .273 with 11 homers for Indianapolis and was named a regular season and postseason all-star in the International League.

Drafted in the 29th round by Toronto in 2002, Kratz homered in his first professional at-bat. He has played eight seasons in the minors but has never reached the big leagues.

— Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Brian Bass and D.J. Carrasco held the Yankees hitless for the first four innings. Alex Rodriguez led off the fifth with a single to center off Chris Jakubauskas.

— Jeff Clement started at first base and played five innings. He handed nine throws from infielders without problem. “He did fine,” Russell said. “He was in the right position, didn’t stiffen up or panic.”

— Joel Hanrahan, on the mend from elbow soreness, this morning threw long toss from 45 feet. It was his first action of the spring.

— Ryan Doumit, Ronny Cedeno, Aki Iwamura, Ramon Vazquez, Brandon Jones, Garrett Jones, Brian Myrow and Hector Gimenez will not make the trip Thursday to Orlando.

Pitching assignments for the rest of the week:

Thursday at the Braves: Charlie Morton (two innings/45 pitches max), Brian Burress (2/45), Brad Lincoln (one inning), Vinny Chulk (one or two innings) and Jeff Karstens (one inning). Kenchin Kawakami will start for Atlanta.

Friday at the O’s: Zach Duke (2/45), Daniel McCutchen (2/45) and Vasquez (one inning) will pitch for the Pirates. Chris Tillman will start for Baltimore.

Saturday vs. the Phils: Kevin Hart (2/45) and D.J. Carrasco (2/40) for the Pirates. Joe Blanton will start for Philly.