Phillies place Erik Kratz on disabled list with knee injury

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As first reported by MLB.com beat reporter Todd Zolecki, the Phillies have placed catcher Erik Kratz on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee injury and purchased the contract of Steven Lerud from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to provide depth behind the plate.

Kratz injured his knee Saturday in the Phillies’ loss to the Brewers. The exact severity of the injury is unknown, but Kratz told manager Charlie Manuel on Saturday that he felt a “pop” and that’s never good. He’ll be examined by team doctors early this week.

Kratz, 32, is batting .229/.290/.436 with eight home runs and 22 RBI in 155 plate appearances this season. He was the Phillies’ primary backstop while Carlos Ruiz served his 25-game amphetamine suspension to open the season and had resumed that regular catching role in late May when Ruiz strained his right hamstring and landed on the 15-day disabled list.

Ruiz is still out, so Humberto Quintero will get the majority of playing time at catcher in Philly.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.