#1 on Thursday, began Fridays round on the back nin von lebaobei123 16.04.2019 04:44

CLEARWATER, Florida – Erik Kratzs friendship with R.A. Dickey, he who throws that strange knuckleball, is growing. At 33, back with the Blue Jays organization and tasked with catching a pitch Dickey once described as a "capricious animal," Kratz is a veteran who is evolving under the bright Florida sun. "Its a cool challenge, it really is," said Kratz of catching the knuckleball. "Its something that as any athlete, any competitor will say that the competition, the effort level is something that youre never going to be someone that says, I didnt quite give it all I had today, but in a sense you have to kind of just relax and let the game come to you, which you have to do normally, but as a catcher you kind of have to have that energy." Kratz is like any other ballplayer. Hes been at this game for years and has developed habits that suit his game and have become second nature. Some of these habits are obvious, things youre taught the moment you strap on catchers gear, like giving the pitcher a firm target. Throw up your glove as he enters his wind up. Will your battery mate to locate his pitch. It doesnt work that way catching Dickey. The knuckleballer doesnt want a target. When Dickey is on his game, he has a good idea of where his pitch will end up, but it still can be unpredictable. Kratz is still at the point where hes reminding himself to let his glove rest over his left knee in his crouch, even when Dickey throws his fastball. Kratz has to be consistent every pitch or the hitter could know whats coming. Its a different mindset and he admits he finds it mentally taxing. "Thats something that as a catcher, I take pride in receiving the ball," he said, moving his left hand as if to put up a target. "I take pride in making the pitch look good. Its something that is a hard habit to break, but on the same hand, its something Ive got to be cognizant of that. I call fastball, normally Im like, Hey, lets get it out there; whoops, maybe not because I dont want to tip his pitches." When youre tasked with catching the knuckleball, you have to set your ego aside. "Its a part of my game that I feel is, not to sound conceited, but I feel like Im pretty good at it," said Kratz of his receiving prowess behind the plate. "I feel like Im really good at it. (Catching the knuckleball is) a challenge that is exciting and every time I go out there, kind of at the beginning I was like, jeez, now Im like lets go out there and do it and see what I can get." The battery-mates spend a lot of time together. Dickey says Kratz has "improved" at handling his pitch. The Blue Jays havent publicly committed to Kratz as the second catcher behind Dioner Navarro, saying that the other alternative, Josh Thole, has an extensive history with Dickey and the club needs to see whether Kratz can do the job. Navarro hasnt played in more than 89 games since 2009, making it likely the Jays will need their backup to play more often. Assuming thats the case, the club requires reasonable improvement over Tholes .175/.256/.242 slash line he posted last season. Kratz has hit 18 home runs in 375 at-bats over the last two seasons playing for the Phillies. He is a low batting average, low on-base percentage hitter but he at least is a threat to go deep. Acquired from Philadelphia, along with left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen, for reliever Brad Lincoln on December 3, the former Blue Jays draft pick is preparing as if the job is his. Kratz is using a first basemans glove, instead of an oversized catchers mitt, although, he may revert if he finds a prototype with more flexibility. Each time hes catching Dickey in a bullpen session, he simulates game situations in his mind. Kratz will pretend theres a runner on third. If the knuckleball gets by him, chances are that run scores. Its not quite like live game action, but hes trying to put himself in the right frame of mind. Its important not only for himself, Kratz believes, but also for his teammates. He needs to project the right aura. His is the only position each of his teammates can on the field see in front of them. "If you have a bad energy catcher, you have a bad energy team, in my opinion," said Kratz. "The best teams that have guys that are high energy, you look at them and theyre in every play and theyre ready to go." DICKEY WORKS IN TRIPLE-A GAME While the Blue Jays lost a Grapefruit League game 6-3 to the Rays in Port Charlotte on Saturday, R.A. Dickey was pitching in a Triple-A game in Clearwater, against the Phillies Lehigh Valley Ironpigs affiliate. He logged 7 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. Dickey struck out two hitters. He threw 100 pitches, 60 of which were strikes. "Its a great mental exercise to come out here and execute your pitches regardless of the situation, surroundings, competition," said Dickey. "Im competing against myself more than I am those guys, anyway, so its a great exercise for me." "I feel more ready," said Dickey. "Now, Im going to take that into the season with me. Its no guarantee that things are going to be perfectly smooth, but at the same time the way that I feel brings a level of confidence with it that I dont have when youre not as prepared. And, yes, I do feel more ready." Dickey has two more starts before he takes the mound on opening day, March 31, against the Rays in St. Petersburg. The first, in which he plans to throw another 100 pitches, will be in a minor-league game, likely on Friday. He will make a shorter start on March 26 versus the Yankees in Dunedin. Ted Lindsay Jersey . -- Canadian ski cross star Marielle Thompson accomplished two goals in one race Saturday. Mike Green Jersey . His absence against the Celtics comes a day after he scored 43 points in the Heats 100-96 win at Cleveland. http://www.redwingshockeyauthentic.com/dylan-larkin-jersey/. Inter moved five points behind fourth-place Fiorentina and eight points behind third-place Napoli, which visits relegation-threatened Sassuolo on Sunday. Frans Nielsen Jersey . His head snapped back from the impact and hit the floor. The All-Star power forward was all right afterward, a relief for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Alex Delvecchio Jersey . -- Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh says he isnt going to change what he does on the field.HUMBLE, Texas -- Sergio Garcia has yet to finish lower than 16th in a PGA Tour event this season. The Spaniard appears well on his way to keeping that streak intact this week after posting a 7-under par 65 and matching the course 36-hole record of 12 under overall after the second round of the Houston Open on Friday. As well as Garcia played in taking a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, the focus afterward was a mix of this week -- with a heavy dose of attention turned toward next weeks Masters. Garcia has eight PGA Tour wins in his career, but the 34-year-old world No. 8-- once thought to be Tiger Woods challenger for the top spot in the world -- is still in search of his first major championship. Hed like nothing more than end that quest next week, while taking full advantage of his prep time at the Golf Club of Houstons Augusta National-like conditions for the rest of this weekend. "I mean, obviously I feel good, but every week is different," Garcia said. "First of all, we got to finish this week, and hopefully next week Ill be feeling good (and) not too many things will be bothering me health-wise, and then just feel good on the course, hopefully play well and things happen." Weyburn, Sask., native Graham DeLaet, the top Canadian in the field, is tied for 32nd place after shooting a 71. Calgarys Stephen Ames is in a tie for 42nd place. Garcia, opening on the back nine, climbed the leaderboard with a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch on his front nine. His eagle on the par-5 13th came after sticking his 282-yard second shot to 5 feet, giving him a 4-shot lead following his morning round. Kuchar, who opened with a 6-under 66 on Thursday, briefly tied Garcia at 12 under late in his afternoon round before closing with a bogey from the fairway bunker on the 18th. The two will be paired with Matt Jones on Saturday after tournament officials decided to send threesomes off both tees early in the morning in an attempt to beat expected rain in the afternoon. "If we get some rain and it doesnt blow too hard, of course the course will soften up and the scores will go even lower," Kuchar said. "No telling ... It could be really tough." The weather was the clearest its been all week on Friday, with the sun shining brightly and the wind gusting throughout the day at the 7,441-yard Golf Club of Houston.dddddddddddd The windy conditions limited first-round co-leader Bill Haas to a 2-over 74. Charley Hoffman, the other first-round leader, fell to 3 under par overall after a 4-over 76. While the early leaders struggled, Phil Mickelson shot a 2-under 70 and is 6 under overall, six shots back of Garcia in ninth. After a bogey-free opening round on Thursday, Mickelson -- still recovering from last weeks muscle pull that forced his withdrawal from the Texas Open -- overcame a pair of bogeys on Friday with four birdies. The five-time major winner, who won the Houston Open in 2011, had back-to-back birdies to reach 6 under where he is one of 11 golfers within six shots of Garcia. "It was a lot more difficult today with this wind than it was the first day," Mickelson said. "But either way, I feel like I felt better than I have in a long time with my game." Garcia finished Friday two shots off the course record of 63 in just his second visit to the former Redstone Golf Club -- which switched names following an ownership change. He only needed 25 putts and showed hes ready for the slick greens and tight fairways at next weeks Masters. He equaled the courses previous low 36 holes set by Johnson Wagner in 2008 and matched in 2012 by Jeff Maggert. Garcia, who opened with a 5-under 67 on Thursday, began Fridays round on the back nine. His first birdie came following a 12-foot putt on No. 12, and he followed that with a spectacular eagle on the par-5 13th. He started the 592-yard hole with a 307-yard tee shot, following that with a 282-yard 3-wood to 5 feet of the hole. The eagle putt sent him into the lead at 8 under, and he then birdied the par-3 14th before putting together three straight birdies on his back nine. "It was nice to kind of get going because as windy as it was, I knew there were a lot of difficult holes out there and a lot of shots that were going to test you," Garcia said. Jones, Cameron Tringale, Jimmy Walker and Shawn Stefani are tied for third at 8 under, while Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis are at 7 under. Walker, who leads the PGA Tour with three wins this season, matched Garcias 7-under 65 on Friday. Defending champion D.A. Points missed the cut after shooting a 2-over 74 on Friday and finishing 1 over overall. ' ' '

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