That time Erik Kratz attended a Phillies fan trip as Blue Jays catcher

Former Phillies catcher Erik Kratz. (Kathy Willens/AP file photo)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Three days after Erik Kratz was traded from his hometown Phillies to the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that originally drafted him, he wondered about his vacation plans.

"Wait a minute," Kratz recalled. "I said yes to the cruise thing."

The Phillies asked Kratz last summer to attend their annual fan trip with Domonic Brown and former players Tommy Greene and Greg Luzinski. But he was dealt to Toronto on Dec. 3 for reliever Brad Lincoln, a transaction that surprised Kratz.

The trip was scheduled for Jan. 4-11. And he still wanted to mingle with Phillies fans for a week.

"It's something I said I was going to do, and if they still wanted me to do it, I was definitely going to do it," Kratz said. "I wanted to fulfill my obligation. And, I mean, who doesn't want to go to Cancun in January? But if you sign up for something, you do it. There were no hard feelings."

Kratz, 33, a Telford native who went to Christopher Dock High School, became a fan favorite because of his perseverance, long home runs, and sponsorship of turkey bacon during TV commercials on Phillies broadcasts. He viewed the vacation as a chance to show his appreciation.

"Phillies fans were great," Kratz said. "No one asked, 'Why did you come?' They were like, 'We're so glad you came.' It made me feel good about coming because I appreciated my time in Philly. If that's one way I could show it, then I did."

Kratz will compete for the Blue Jays' backup catching job. His primary task this spring is to learn the intricacies of R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. Toronto selected him in the 29th round of the 2002 draft.

"I've come full circle," Kratz said.

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