Phillies Notes: With catchers Brian Schneider and Carlos Ruiz hurt, Erik Kratz making most of chance

Posted: August 26, 2012

The cruelty of a lost season in Philadelphia has benefited Erik Kratz, a journeyman catcher almost elevated to cult status. Now, for the first time in his career, Kratz is an everyday player in the majors.

The Phillies placed Brian Schneider on the disabled list Friday with a strained hamstring, ending a platoon behind the plate. It's Kratz's job for the foreseeable future.

"I think it's good for Kratzy," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he can handle that. I think that he can do it. I said before that we can beat him up."

To replace Schneider on the roster, the Phillies dipped into double-A Reading for Steven Lerud, a 27-year-old with only nine career triple-A games and zero time in the majors. Manuel is left with the organization's third- and fourth-string options at catcher.

Kratz, who had played in 11 major-league games before 2012, has displayed remarkable power: Entering Friday, 14 of his 22 hits were for extra bases.

The 32-year-old could be playing for a backup job in 2013. Carlos Ruiz has required time on the disabled list in each of the last four seasons. The Phillies must know whether their backup catcher can be a regular, if needed.

"That's very important," Manuel said. "That's very important to know that he can go two weeks or a month. Maybe even two months. That's very, very important."

It's Schneider's second stint on the DL this season. He missed 36 days with an ankle sprain in June and July.

Lerud was summoned despite a .235 batting average at Reading. Sebastian Valle, the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, and top prospect Tommy Joseph were not options.

"Not at this time, no," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "This was the right guy for us at this time."

The Phillies would rather Valle and Joseph play every day in minor-league pennant races than sit on the bench in the majors. Lerud will likely see action only in a pinch.

Scheduling 2013

Next year, for the first time ever, a Phillies home opener will be against an American League team.

The 2013 season will begin with a three-game series in Atlanta on April 2, followed by the April 5 opener at Citizens Bank Park against the Kansas City Royals. Major League Baseball has yet to officially release next season's schedule, but three sources with knowledge of it confirmed details.

Year-round interleague play is forced by MLB's impending realignment that evens the two leagues to 15 teams each. Every division will be paired with another in an effort to balance the scheduling.

The Phillies will play 21 interleague games in 2013. They played 15 in 2012.

The NL East will match with the AL Central next season. In addition to Kansas City, the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians are scheduled to play in Philadelphia.

The Phillies are scheduled to make American League trips to Minnesota, Cleveland, and Detroit.

They will also play a four-game, home-and-home series vs. the Boston Red Sox, with each city hosting two games. Boston serves as the Phillies' "natural rival" in 2013.

The Phillies open and close the season in Atlanta. The full schedule is expected to be released in September.

Extra bases

Both the Phillies and Jeff Borris, the agent who represents righthander Michael Schwimer, declined comment Friday regarding a dispute over his recent demotion. Schwimer, a team source said, challenged management's decision Thursday to send him to triple A. CSNPhilly.com reported the pitcher claimed he was injured and believed he should be placed on the DL. . . . Manuel said Placido Polanco was "still hurting some" from his recent back problems. Kevin Frandsen started at third Friday.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @magelb.

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