ATLANTA -- Almost everybody had seen this coming.
The Phillies on Wednesday morning placed Jim Thome on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back and recalled catcher Erik Kratz from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Thome's place on the 25-man roster.
Kratz will be available for Wednesday night's game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. He hit .294 with four doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs and an .882 OPS for the IronPigs.
Thome, 41, injured his back Saturday at Citizens Bank Park, and he had been unavailable for the past three games. Thome did not make enough progress in recent days, and the club could no longer afford to be a player short on the bench.
The Phillies hope the DL stint helps Thome in multiple ways. First, he gets healthy. Second, a rehab assignment gets him enough at-bats to get his timing back at the plate. Thome is 2-for-18 with 10 strikeouts this season.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Thome needs more at-bats to get sharp. He'd begun to think Thome could play first base more than once per week while Ryan Howard is sidelined, but that seems impossible now. Howard is resuming baseball activities this week in Clearwater, Fla., but the Phillies are reluctant to put a timetable on his return.
"This is about our team," Thome said Tuesday. "It will always be about that. I certainly don't want to put Charlie in an uncomfortable position every night [of] not having a guy ready. I understand that part of the game, too. I think [after] playing a long time, you understand that. But there's also the sense to get back as quick as we can."
Said Manuel on Tuesday: "The longer [Thome] sits there, sometimes I think he needs to go hit. Like when you sit there and you're not playing and not doing anything, and you're not getting at-bats, when you are able to, it usually takes you a while to get going."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.