Steven Lerud is new backup catcher

Brian Schneider is headed back to the disabled list. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The Phillies, down to their fourth-string catcher, have dipped into double-A Reading for their latest replacement.

Steven Lerud, a 27-year-old with only nine career triple-A games, was added to the 40-man roster when Brian Schneider was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.

The moves make Erik Kratz the starting catcher for the foreseeable future.

"I think it's good for Kratzy," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he can handle that. I think that he can do it. I said before that we can beat him up."

Kratz, who had played in 11 career major-league games before 2012, has been one of the feel-good stories as the Phillies nose-dived into irrelevancy. Entering Friday, 14 of his 22 hits were for extra bases.

The 32-year-old could be playing for a backup job in 2013. Carlos Ruiz has required time on the disabled list in each of the last four seasons. The Phillies must know their backup catcher can be a regular if needed.

Manuel believes a two-week test as the everyday catcher can provide important intelligence on Kratz's future.

"That's very important," Manuel said. "That's very important to know that he can go two weeks or a month. Maybe even two months. Really. That’s very, very important."

It's Schneider's second stint on the DL this season. He missed 36 days with an ankle sprain earlier. He had been playing with the bad hamstring for a few days and the team was concerned about his availability in an emergency situation.

Lerud was summoned despite a .235 batting average and .654 OPS at double-A Reading. He spent a few weeks in big-league spring training as a non-roster player. Sebastian Valle, the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, and top prospect Tommy Joseph were not options.

"Not at this time, no," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "This was the right guy for us at this time."

The Phillies would rather Valle and Joseph play every day in minor-league pennant races rather than sit on the bench in the majors. Lerud will likely see action only in a pinch.

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