The high-flying Blue Jays are currently enjoying an eight-game winning streak and sitting atop the American League East standings with a record of 31-22.
The recent success of the club has energized fans not only in the city of Toronto, but across Canada as well. This excitement could be seen on the faces of the students of Monika Chawla's Grade 4/5 class at Garden Avenue Public School on Tuesday in Toronto, as they were treated to visit by Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz and mascot Ace.
The two were on hand as part of the "Jays in the Classroom" initiative, which teaches children the importance of healthy and active lifestyles. Today's theme was "Healthy Snacking," and the class was given a lesson on proper nutrition from registered dietician and sports nutritionist Jennifer Sygo. Prior to the arrival of Kratz and Ace, the class was given a snack of fruits, veggies, hummus and yogurt as they returned from recess.
Gifts from the Blue Jays were also waiting at their desks when they came back in, including a team cap, sandwich container, notebook and a Hit a Home Run for Healthy Eating nutrition guide.
"I love that we're talking about nutrition," said Kratz after making his way into the classroom. "My nutrition and the food I eat help me get better and healthy every day. It can do the same for you."
Ace and Kratz both sat with the children at their small desks, a difficult feat for the 6-foot-4 catcher from Telford, Pa. The lesson included an interactive game that taught the class how protein, carbohydrates and water are important for the body on a daily basis.
The students were surprised to find out that Kratz, among other baseball players, drinks chocolate milk during the season.
"I drink it postgame and post-workouts," said Kratz. "The protein and sugar help us in muscle recovery."
After the game and Sygo's lesson, the students were given a chance to ask Kratz questions about everything from his daily routine to his childhood in Pennsylvania.
"On a normal day, I eat a turkey burger with avocado and tomatoes," said Kratz, who arrives at the ballpark six hours before game time. "I'll then have a smoothie made with berries, carrots and cucumbers."
The 33-year-old, originally drafted by the Blue Jays in 2002, would go on to tell the class about his journey to the Major Leagues.
"My dream was always to become a baseball player. I was 5 or 6 when I started playing Little League. I started catching in junior high, because I wasn't very good at any other position," joked Kratz.
Kratz described to the class that after being drafted by Toronto, he spent six years playing in the Blue Jays' organization until he signed with the Pirates in 2009 and Phillies in 2011. Kratz was traded back to Toronto this past December.
"Although I was drafted by the Blue Jays, this is the first time playing for the big club. It's exciting to have the opportunity to play in front of 50,000 fans like we had on Sunday," said Kratz.
A final question for Kratz was from a student asking what type of pitchers are the hardest to catch.
"Pitchers who don't throw strikes are hard to catch," replied a smiling Kratz.
Luckily this is a problem that Kratz and the other Blue Jays catchers haven't had to deal with lately.