Lerud competing with Quintero for backup catcher's job

Charlie Manuel had a chance encounter with a man on a tricycle during a break between innings early in the game. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Unless the Phillies make a trade before Sunday's 3 p.m. deadline for finalizing their 25-man roster, it's relatively easy to figure out who will be in uniform for Monday's season opener against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

The one exception appears to be the backup catcher.

Because Carlos Ruiz will be suspended for the first 25 games, the Phillies need a backup for Erik Kratz through most of April. Coming into camp, minor-league free agent Humberto Quintero appeared to be the frontrunner for that job, but Steven Lerud, who played three games with the Phillies and 35 with double-A Reading last season, has made it a competition by performing well here in Florida.

Lerud, a 28-year-old former fourth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has never been this close to making a big-league team and admitted before Wednesday's game against the Detroit Tigers that he has some anxiety about the team's final decision.

"I guess to a point I am, yeah," Lerud said. "At the same time, I look at the position I was in last year and I know I've come a long way. I'd love to make the big-league team and be a part of what they have going on here, but I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and let everything play out how it's going to."

Lerud headed into play Wednesday batting .235 with a double, a home run and three RBIs, but has impressed the Phillies most with his defense and the way he has handled pitchers when he has been behind the plate. His three games with the Phillies last year were his first in the big leagues.

Quintero, 33, has played in 422 big-league games, including 43 last year with Kansas City. He entered play Wednesday batting .296 with a double and eight RBIs.

The rest of the Phillies' 25-man roster could look something like this unless general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. does not make a trade:

Pitchers (12)

Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Chad Durbin, Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, Raul Valdes.

Catchers (2)

Kratz and either Quintero or Lerud.

Infielders (6)

Michael Young, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen.

Outfielders (5)

Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, Laynce Nix, John Mayberry Jr., Ender Inciarte.

The lineup

Here's the Phillies' lineup Wednesday against Detroit's Justin Verlander: Revere, CF, Frandsen, 3B, Michael Young, DH, Nix, 1B, Ruiz, C, Pete Orr, 2B, Mayberry, RF, Galvis, SS, Inciarte, LF.

Hamels will pitch for the Phillies.