HOUSTON -- Charlie Manuel considered starting catcher Carlos Ruiz for the second time in three days on Thursday, but the manager opted to play Erik Kratz behind the plate for the Phillies' series opener at Minute Maid Park.

Manuel wants to get Ruiz back in the heart of the lineup, but the Phillies skipper also doesn't want to force Ruiz back from injury too quickly. Ruiz was on the disabled list for more than a month with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

"If it's not completely healed, the more active he gets on it, it comes back," Manuel said.

Ruiz started his first game since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday in Philadelphia, going 1-for-5 with a double. The 33-year-old catcher picked up two hits in Sunday's game against the Rockies after coming into the game in the sixth inning.

With the Phillies' top half of the lineup currently heavy on left-handed hitters, Manuel wants to get the right-handed hitting Ruiz back in the mix. Ruiz already has set career highs in homers (14), RBIs (60) and extra-base hits (43) in 2012. He needs one more run and eight hits to set career highs in those categories.

"He balances the lineup a little better in the five-hole," Manuel said.

Manuel hinted that Ruiz could be back in the lineup on Friday and Sunday.

Frandsen returns to lineup from ankle injury

HOUSTON -- Third baseman Kevin Frandsen was back in the lineup and batting seventh on Thursday after he didn't start the last seven games with soreness in his left ankle.

"We'll see how he goes," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "The trainer and doctor says he can play. We'll see."

Frandsen, called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 27, made two pinch-hitting appearances since starting on Sept. 4. From July 29 to Sept. 4, Frandsen started 33 of the Phillies' 34 games, hitting .336.

Manuel said Frandsen could play a couple of days in a row but may be replaced defensively late in games until he's 100 percent healthy.

Michael Martinez started at third base in Frandsen's absence and hit .273 (6-for-22) in seven starts.

Worth noting

• Entering Thursday's games, the Phillies had climbed within three games of the second National League Wild Card berth. They are 15-4 in their past 19 games.

"It feels good to know that we're still playing for something and we've got a chance," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're definitely right in the middle of it. It feels good. We've had some help from other teams, of course, and teams have been beating one another. We've been able to put together a streak and put us in a position that we're still in it."

• With starter Tyler Cloyd set for 80-85 pitches at most on Thursday, left-hander Jeremy Horst would probably serve as the bullpen's long reliever, Manuel said.