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Kratz OK after getting struck on hand by pitch

Kratz OK after getting struck on hand by pitch

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz survived a little bit of a scare on Saturday afternoon, when he was struck on the right hand during a Minor League game against the Phillies.

Kratz was at the plate when he was hit on the backside of his hand by a fastball. The game was momentarily delayed as Blue Jays trainer George Poulis ran onto the field to get a closer look.

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The 33-year-old was given the option of coming out of the game, but he decided to continue the at-bat and hit an RBI single.

"I'm good, I'm good," Kratz said before hurrying off to make sure he didn't miss the team shuttle to Dunedin, Fla. "It just hit me in the back of the hand."

The lack of an apparent injury can only be considered good news for the catcher, who is competing for the backup job in Toronto.

Veteran Dioner Navarro is scheduled to receive most of the playing time behind the plate, and either Kratz or Josh Thole will become the personal catcher for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

In a rather telling sign of the Blue Jays' plans, Kratz has been behind the plate for all of Dickey's starts this spring. It's worth noting, though, that Thole has caught the former National League Cy Young Award winner in the past and it wouldn't take him very long to get up to speed.

Kratz only had limited experience with a knuckleball before this spring, but he entered camp as the early favorite for the back-up job because of his upside at the plate. The native of Pennsylvania hit nine home runs in each of the past two years with the Phillies despite receiving less than 200 at-bats in both seasons.

"It's coming," Dickey said of Kratz's ability to catch the knuckleball. "We only have a couple of more outings. Whoever is evaluating it, is evaluating it but I feel like he has improved and we'll see how that goes."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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