It is easy to forget that Carlos Ruiz hit .325/.394/.540 with 16 home runs in 372 at bats last season, mostly because it far surpassed his best season up to that point (.302/.400/.447 with eight home runs in 371 at bats in 2010). The Phillies are not expecting the kind of production out of their catcher now that he is back in the lineup after close to a month on the disabled list. Charlie Manuel's decision to hit him eighth against Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler Tuesday night said as much. But it won't take a career-best batting line for Ruiz to improve this Phillies offense.
Ruiz's hamstring injury, suffered May 19 against the Reds while going first to third, came at a frustrating time. Ruiz appeared to be finding his swing after a tough start to his season, which was delayed a month as he served a 25-game suspension for a positive stimulant test. In his last 10 games before the injury, Ruiz went 10-for-31 with two walks, three strikeouts and a hit by pitch in 35 plate appearances. This, after a 2-for-20 start in which he struck out six times while drawing one walk. Even production that equals out to his career line of .274/.361/.415 would represent a drastic improvement over the production of Erik Kratz (.229/.290/.436), Humberto Quintero (.245/.288/.367) and Steven Lerud (0-for-5 with four strikeouts). In fact, Ruiz's career OPS of .776 would rank behind only Domonic Brown (.880) and Ryan Howard (.784) among active Phillies with at least 100 plate appearances.
Ruiz played two games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Saturday and Sunday, going 1-for-5. He said his swing felt surprisingly good for such a long layoff.
"The two games that I played in Lehigh, it felt great," he said. "I felt real good at home plate and it surprised me because I hadn't faced live pitching in a long time, but the at bats I had felt really good. I'm ready to go."