Schneider signs two-year deal with Phils
New catcher comes home to serve as Ruiz's backup
PHILADELPHIA -- Ruben Amaro Jr. laughed on Tuesday as he recalled the times late Phillies coach John Vukovich told him to get Brian Schneider.
Schneider always seemed to kill the Phillies in the past, and Vukovich had tired of it.
But Schneider no longer will have the opportunity to beat the Phillies. They signed him to a two-year, $2.75 million contract on Tuesday to serve as Carlos Ruiz's backup. Schneider will make $1.25 million in 2010 and $1.5 million in '11, according to a source.
"It's kind of like a backup quarterback," Amaro said. "It's a specialty position. We want to try to give ourselves some depth as this position, and I think we did that with a guy who has been an everyday catcher in the past. He was willing to come to a team with a chance to win."
Schneider hit .218 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 59 games last season with the New York Mets. He battled injuries to his back and calf, which might have affected him at the plate. He is a career .251 hitter in 10 seasons with the Expos, Nationals and Mets.
Schneider attended Northampton High School outside Allentown, Pa., and he knows the Phillies well.
"I grew up a fan," Schneider said. "All my friends and family are still diehard Phillies fans, so it's good to be on that side again. It's a good place to be the next two years."
Schneider's agent said on Tuesday that the 33-year-old had opportunities to sign with other teams that offered more playing time, but Schneider considered the Phillies a better fit.
"As Brian weighed his options, he was really compelled to win for the first time in his career," agent Brodie Van Wagenen said. "He had to weigh the opportunity to be a starting catcher with two or three different teams or go to a winning environment. He felt like the chance to be part of that in a city where he knew the coaching staff and the city really well and -- oh, by the way, they happen to be his hometown team growing up -- it made it a really exciting fit for him."
Schneider understands that Ruiz is the team's No. 1 catcher. He said he is OK with that. But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been unafraid to use his backup catchers in the past, most notably Chris Coste and Paul Bako. It seems Schneider will get his share of playing time, especially considering he hits left-handed.
"Ruiz is the guy. Everyone knows that," Schneider said. "He's taken them to the World Series the last couple years. He's the main guy. When I get used after that I don't know, but I'll be ready for whenever they need me."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.