ATLANTA -- It surprised nobody Wednesday when the Phillies placed Jim Thome on the disabled list with a strained lower back.
It had to be done. Thome had not played since he injured his back Saturday, which had left Charlie Manuel short a player on the bench. But with Thome on the 15-day DL, the Phillies recalled catcher Erik Kratz to take his place.
Kratz was scheduled to be in uniform in time for Wednesday's game against the Braves at Turner Field. He hit .294 with four doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs and an .882 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"We felt like he earned a shot," Manuel said. "He's been hitting the ball good. Our reports have been good on him. It gives us a third catcher. It gives us a guy who can hit the ball out of the yard, a bat off the bench, stuff like that. A righty."
Thome is in Clearwater, Fla., where he will rehab. He can get limitless at-bats there, if he plays in extended Spring Training games. That is the plan, and that is expected to be the greatest benefit to Thome. He is just 2-for-18 with 10 strikeouts.
Manuel has said Thome needs more at-bats to get his timing at the plate. That shouldn't be a problem in Clearwater.
"Yeah, it's definitely going to help him," Manuel said. "He's going to see some pitching. In extended spring he'll see some live pitching."
Manuel said he still plans to play Thome at first base once he rejoins the team.
"I think that we need to play him," the manager said. "I think we're going to have to play him. When Ryan Howard comes back, more than likely every now and then he's definitely going to need a blow. He's coming off a serious injury, and the fact he hasn't had any [Spring Training]. ... To put him out there at first, you're going to have to monitor him a little bit. And that would hopefully be Thome, if he's ready to hit."