Yankees catcher Erik Kratz is old enough to be the father of his youngest teammates, and last weekend, the 40-year-old jokingly called rookie right-hander Deivi Garvia "my son" on the field.
Kratz, who will catch the 21-year-old Garcia on Friday night, has embraced a mentorship role for MLB newcomers in recent years, particularly with Hispanic players adjusting to U.S. culture oftentimes far from their families. Kratz, who said he developed a rudimentary grasp of Spanish, became emotional as he told reporters about his bonds with younger teammates.
"I love seeing what they can do," said Kratz, who teared up during a video call. "I think sometimes some people forget where they come from, some people forget that they want (to succeed) and there are people back home who want it just as bad as them. ... Being older, hopefully I can be someone who can step in and help that relationship."
I have talked to a lot of young Latin pitchers who have worked with Erik Kratz and so many of them praised how much he has helped them in their careers (he has even worked on his Spanish!) I asked him about it. And this happened. I'm not crying, you're crying. pic.twitter.com/FjNgM7Rbhn— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) September 4, 2020
40-year-old Erik Kratz is so excited to play catch with "his son," 21-year-old Deivi Garcia. pic.twitter.com/8TFNZcdKAF— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 30, 2020
Kratz didn't reach MLB until he turned 30. He has since used his knowledge of baseball's challenges to provide clubhouse support as a backup catcher. He has never played more than 68 games in a single season but has still lasted a decade in the big leagues.
As the backup to Gary Sanchez in New York this season, Kratz entered Friday 6 for 20 at the plate this year.
Garcia, meanwhile, impressed in his first start Sunday, striking out six in six innings without allowing an earned run against the Mets.
The Yankees play the Orioles four times in the next three days, including a doubleheader Friday night. Garcia is scheduled to start the nightcap.