"I want to be in there," Frandsen said. "But I'm not going to put any added pressure on myself. We've been winning. If I'm in the lineup, out of the lineup, it doesn't matter. I'm just a little piece of this whole thing."
That's a mentality manager Charlie Manuel believes has permeated his clubhouse. The manager has found a combination that works. Ideally, it would include Frandsen and Ruiz on an everyday basis.
Ruiz is likely to catch Friday. Manuel indicated he was aiming for Ruiz to then start again Sunday. If he handles two games in three days well, the catcher could see regular action in the season's final two weeks.
Manuel has preached caution with Ruiz, who suffered a tear in his right foot in July. If he plays Friday, that would be two days off between starts. Sunday would be one. That would signal progress.
"Chooch, you definitely have to watch," Manuel said. "What happens is, if that's not completely healed, the more active he gets on it, it comes back."
But Manuel has his eyes on the standings.
"We need offense, man," he said. "We got to score, too. The more offense we get in there . . . Chooch supplies more extra-base power for us. He balances our lineup better in the five hole."
As for Frandsen, he will play as long as the pain can be tolerated. He fouled a ball right into the injured area and took his time resuming a second-inning at-bat. But in the third, he beat out a chopper for a run-scoring infield single.
"I have no idea how it's going to be tomorrow," Frandsen said.
There is no single action that irritates the injury more than another, he said. Frandsen had brought stability to third base with a .341 batting average and .796 OPS before being sidelined. His 37 hits in August were third most in the National League.
If possible, Manuel may start Frandsen and sub him for a defensive replacement late in games.
"We need our best offensive team on the field," Manuel said.
Some 2,000 fans dotted the stands at Minute Maid Park for first pitch Thursday, not surprising given the Astros' current state. Nonetheless, this stadium has created Phillies horrors in the past.
Entering Thursday, they were 17-24 all-time in the building formerly known as Enron Field. That .415 winning percentage is lower than all but two National League stadiums. (AT&T Park in San Francisco and PNC Park in Pittsburgh are worse.)
It's the Phillies' last-ever visit to Houston as a National League city. The Astros will move to the American League West in 2013 to balance the leagues. The Phillies will not play Houston in 2013.
Bud Norris, Houston's scheduled Friday starter, was scratched with a blister. The Astros will bump their rotation up one day, which means the Phillies will face righty Edgar Gonzalez, lefty Dallas Keuchel, and righty Jordan Lyles.
Contact Matt Gelb at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @magelb.