Lerud to make his debut against Mets

Steven Lerud is set to make his Major League-debut tonight after spending eight seasons in the minors. (Matt Slocum/AP photo)

This is just the final day of a three-game series with the New York Mets to most Phillies fans and most of the Phillies, for that matter.

For Steven Lerud, on the other hand, it is biggest day of his baseball life.

After eight seasons in the minor leagues, the 27-year-old catcher will make his major-league debut Thursday at Citizens Bank Park and, yes, he was excited.

"Absolutely," he said. "It has been a long time on bus rides, so this will be fun."

Lerud, a third-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003, joined the Phillies six days ago when Brian Schneider was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. His mother Eva immediately flew in from Reno, Nev. in the hopes of seeing her son play his first big-league game.

She's been waiting for almost a week and already had a plane ticket to Atlanta for Friday's game against the Braves just in case Lerud was nothing more than a spectactor for a sixth straight game.

"She'll probably have a few tears," Lerud said. "She'll probably be more nervous than I am."

Lerud said one of his inspirations to continue playing has been Phillies catcher Erik Kratz, who is finally getting his first extended big-league look after spending parts of 10 seasons in the minor leagues. Kratz and Lerud had been together in Pittsburgh's farm system in 2009. Kratz was 30 when he made his big-league debut with the Pirates in 2010.

"That was the first thing I told Kratz when I got here," Lerud said. "He was my inspiration to keep going. At one point, I was the prospect in Pittsburgh and Kratz came in there on a minor-league deal and he ended up playing in the big leagues there, then going a few other places. It's kind of funny we meet here now and I'm backing him up. We've kind of taken the same journey."

Lerud's locker was situated next to Tyler Cloyd, the pitcher who made his big-league debut Wednesday night against the Mets.

"I've got more big-league time than him," Lerud said. "But he has more at-bats."

Brown still out. Outfielder Domonic Brown was not in the lineup for the second straight game because of soreness in his left knee. He did make a pinch-hitting appearance Wednesday.

Here's the lineup for the series finale with the Mets, who are 7-1 at CBP this season: Jimmy Rolllins, SS, Kevin Frandsen, 3B, Chase Utley, 2B, Ryan Howard, 1B, John Mayberry Jr., CF, Ty Wigginton, LF, Michael Martinez, RF, Lerud, C, Kyle Kendrick, P.