Always be prepared: Royals backup catcher hits two homers off the bench

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The fates are smiling on the Kansas City Royals these days. In addition to winning like crazy and taking over first place in the AL Central, they’re doing just fine even if key players go down.

Last night catcher Salvador Perez left the game in the seventh inning with right knee discomfort. That’s a bad thing. But then backup Erik Kratz entered the game and hit two solo home runs in his only two plate appearances.  The first home run extended the Royals’ lead to 4-0 in the seventh, and his second came in the ninth inning to make it a 6-1 game. Which was necessary, as the Twins mounted a mini-rally in the ninth, falling short.

After the game, Kratz had this to say:

“You put your work in before the game as a bench guy to be ready to go in,” Kratz said. “Some people could say well, Salvi plays every day, so why not take a day off? In my opinion, what’s the point of taking a day off if that might be the day you come in and play?”

While this runs somewhat counter to one of my own favorite dynamics in life — sometimes being utterly unprepared is totally thrilling — it is probably the better approach to take.

Meanwhile, Perez’s removal from the game is said to be precautionary. He’s day-to-day.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.