CLEARWATER, Fla. — Carlos Ruiz took a long glare at the lineup card posted Monday in the middle of the Phillies clubhouse.
"What's up Chooch?" Charlie Manuel yelled as he walked past. "Where's your name at?"
Ruiz smiled. In blue sharpie, his name was written second under righthanded bench hitters. The starting catcher was missing from Manuel's lineup for the third straight Grapefruit League game and has yet to play.
"He wants to give me a couple days because it's going to be a long season," Ruiz said. "I feel great."
And so Manuel's grand plan for resting notable starters like Ruiz, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco continues. The manager has often committed to resting his regulars but failed to actually do so, usually requesting around 70 at-bats for starters. This spring, he appears dedicated to bending that rule.
Polanco played for the first time all spring in Monday's 9-3 victory over the Yankees. But Ruiz and Utley sat once again.
Is there a date for Utley, who is attempting to reduce the strain on his chronically injured right knee, to play in a game?
"Nope," Manuel said. "It's going to be a while yet."
Will he pinch-hit in a game?
"Nope," Manuel said.
So… he's healthy, right?
"You see him out there walking around hitting, don't you?" Manuel said. "We're not ready to turn him loose yet."
Utley, Ruiz and Polanco have participated fully in batting practice on days they don't play. The second baseman issued a warning no to "freak out" if he's not on the field immediately.
Polanco was less informed about his status. The third baseman says he's healthy, but the Phillies are conscious of his inability to stay on the field during the last two seasons.
Is Polanco OK with not playing?
"Yeah," he said.
Does he understand why he's not playing?
"Yeah," he said.
Polanco was 2 for 3 Monday and Manuel said he'll sit Tuesday. Typically, Polanco said, he needs only 40 to 50 at-bats during the spring to prepare. In 2010, he had 62 at-bats. Last spring, he had 46 while limited by an elbow injury.
Ruiz said he's fine with whatever amount of action he sees this spring. He's averaged 40 Grapefruit League at-bats over the past three springs.
"I don't have any problem," Ruiz said. "I like to play."
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