PHILADELPHIA -- Erik Kratz is nearing his return to the Phillies, but when he gets back, how much playing time will the catcher get?
That's a question manager Charlie Manuel will have to answer in the coming weeks. Kratz tore the meniscus in his left knee about a month ago, but had surgery and is already rehabbing with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Manuel said Kratz will probably return to the Phillies after the All-Star break.
Kratz was the Phillies' primary catcher for two spells this season in place of Carlos Ruiz -- who was suspended for a banned substance at the beginning of the season, and sidelined with a hamstring injury from mid-May to mid-June. In his first stint with the "everyday" label, Kratz struggled, batting .191 in 21 games. With Ruiz injured, however, Kratz hit the ball well and was hitting .270 with six homers, 14 RBIs and a .970 OPS in his final 19 games before his own injury.
Meanwhile, Ruiz has a .259 average in 35 games, but has just six RBIs and no home runs. Ruiz is now healthy and has been the Phillies' everyday catcher since 2007. But with both players sustaining injuries this season, Manuel hinted that there's a chance the two catchers may share more time when Kratz is back.
"We'll see who comes out and plays when we have them both," Manuel said. "We'll see how they play."
While Ruiz offers more experience, Kratz has had much more pop in his bat this season. Though he's missed a month, Kratz's eight homers still rank fourth best for the Phillies, and he also has 22 RBIs in 140 at-bats.
"We like Chooch for our everyday catcher, because of what he does," Manuel said. "But Kratz is definitely capable of catching quite a bit. He's durable, like I said before. Since he's hurt, I don't know how it is. But he's in tremendous shape, he works hard."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.