PHILADELPHIA --- Manager Charlie Manuel has said Erik Kratz is a guy the Phillies can "beat up," meaning the 32-year-old catcher is durable and can handle a heavy workload behind the plate.
That will be put to task in the coming weeks. Before Friday's series opener against the Nationals, backup catcher Brian Schneider was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. To fill his place, Steven Lerud had his contract purchased from Double-A Reading. Lerud, who will wear No. 39, was expected to be available off the bench Friday.
Kratz has hit .319 with seven home runs, seven doubles and 17 RBIs in just 69 at-bats over 27 games entering Friday. All-Star Carlos Ruiz, on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, is still at least a week away from returning.
"I think it's good for Kratzy," Manuel said. "I think he can handle that. I think that he can do it."
Schneider's injury did not occur during his pinch-hit appearance in the 10th inning of Thursday's 4-3 win. Manuel said Schneider was hurting before Thursday's game. He wasn't sure when the actual injury occurred, but said Schneider's had trouble with his hamstrings before. The veteran missed time earlier in the summer because of a sprained ankle.
"The concern is we can't have him not available because of the catching situation," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We have to make sure he's 100 percent. We just felt the need to get somebody who was available in a situation like [Thursday] night, extra innings, that sort of thing. You have to have somebody who can get back there in an emergency. His availability was in question."
Lerud, 27, hit .235 in 35 games for the R-Phils, but recently assumed a backup role to Tommy Joseph, who was acquired from the Giants organization in the July 31 Hunter Pence trade. Triple-A is the highest level Lerud had reached. He played nine games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2010 with the Orioles organization.
"He's sound defensively," said Manuel, who saw Lerud in Spring Training. The catcher was a non-roster invitee. "I haven't seen him hit that much."
Lerud's addition gives the Phils 39 players on their 40-man roster. The only other catcher on the 40-man is Sebastian Valle, a highly regarded 22-year-old who only moved from Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 1. Ranked the eight-best prospect in the organization by MLB.com's Prospect Watch, Valle is likely not yet ready for the big leagues.
Lerud becomes the second player in 2012 to have played at Reading and reached the Major Leagues. Rookie right-hander B.J. Rosenberg was the first.
Said Proefrock, "This was the right guy for us at this time."