Jays name Thole backup catcher over Kratz

Josh Thole. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Josh Thole will start the season with the Blue Jays after beating out Erik Kratz for the backup catcher role.

Thole will back up Dioner Navarro, who hasn’t started more than 89 games since 2009, and will once again be used as R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher. The 27-year-old struggled in the batter’s box last season in his first year in Toronto — and was a non-factor offensively this spring – but his familiarity with the Blue Jays knuckleballer was likely the deciding factor.

Kratz will be sent to triple-A Buffalo to start the season despite a solid spring. In 25 Grapefruit League at-bats, the 33-year-old hit .400 with two home runs, five RBIs and a 1.164 OPS. The Blue Jays acquired Kratz from the Phillies in December in exchange for reliever Brad Lincoln.

In other roster news, reliever Jeremy Jeffress has been informed he’ll start the season in Toronto.

The right-hander had a 2.53 ERA and 1.88 WHIP with nine walks and six strikeouts in 10.1 innings this spring.

To make room for Jeffress, the Blue Jays will reportedly place outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo on waivers. The Blue Jays claimed Tuiasosopo on waivers less than a week ago, but appear set with Moises Sierra as the fourth outfielder.

Jose Reyes is feeling better after dealing with a mild hamstring strain. He is listed as day-to-day and hopes to be ready for the season opener March 31 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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