Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Todd Pratt, Bench Player - 22

Originally published Jan. 3, 2014
Todd Pratt was a backup in his third season with time in the majors, but his friends and family still came out hoping to see him play as he returned to his hometown in 1994.

What they got to see was the catcher Pratt not only starting, but contributing to his Phillies' win, knocking in five runs on a double and a home run.

"I showed that I can still play baseball," Pratt told reporters afterward. "I had a lot of friends here today."

And Pratt continued to show he could play for another decade, not playing his final game in the majors until 2006. He also had more timely hits, helping the Mets to the 1999 NLCS with a 10th inning home run in place of an injured Mike Piazza.

Later, it was alleged, some of Pratt's power may not have been natural. Pratt was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report, accused by Kirk Radomski of purchasing steroids in 2000 or 2001. Pratt then declined to meet with baseball investigators.

Pratt's baseball career began in 1985, taken by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the draft, out of Hilltop High School in California. He's credited on his Best card as Todd Pratts.

Pratt first made AA in 1988, at New Britain, then AAA Pawtucket in 1991. He then moved to the Phillies for 1992, playing at AA Reading and AAA Scranton, before debuting in the majors in Philadelphia.

With the Phillies, Pratt got into 16 games in 1992, hitting .283. He returned for 33 games in 1993, then 28 in 1994. Over the three seasons, he hit nine home runs.

In August 1993, Pratt's manager Jim Fregosi praised Pratt for his readiness.

"He does a very good job in his role, and everybody on the club likes him," Fregosi told the Reading Eagle. "It doesn't seem to bother him if he has to sit for an extended period of time."

He moved to the Cubs for 1995, getting into 25 games, then didn't play at all in 1996. He then signed with the Mets for 1997.

Pratt stayed with the Mets into 2001, appearing in 71 games, hitting three home runs, in 1999 and 80 games and eight home runs in 2000.

In October 1999, Pratt helped close out the Diamondbacks with a 10th-inning home run, in a game where he was filling in for an injured Piazza.

"I'm not an offensive power like Mike," Pratt told the AP afterward, "but I can handle the bat all right."

Pratt continued to play in the majors into 2006, returning to the Phillies and then finally playing for Atlanta. He got into 662 games over his 14 seasons, hitting .251 with 49 home runs.

In 2003, with the Phillies, Pratt helped his team to a win with three RBI.

"Just because we're bench players doesn't mean we couldn't be everyday players on other teams," Pratt told reporters afterward.

After his retirement, he then was named in the Mitchell Report. Radomski accused Pratt of purchasing a small amount of steroids from him in 2000 or 2001.

Radomski also recalled Pratt indicating he had bought steroids previously from another source. Pratt did not respond to investigator George Mitchell's request to be interviewed himself, according to the report.

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