The latest problem: Ruiz's shoulder

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Carlos Ruiz has been scratched from tonight's starting lineup with a sore shoulder. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

NEW YORK -- For five weeks, Carlos Ruiz's right shoulder hasn't felt like it should.

The catcher said he first felt pain when the Phillies were in Atlanta from April 20-22. Ever since, it has hurt to throw. But he played through it.

Until now.

Ruiz is out of the lineup Wednesday night with backup Brian Schneider replacing him in the lineup. It's part of a different bottom of the order for Charlie Manuel, who is starting Ben Francisco in left field for Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez at shortstop for Juan Castro.

Manuel said Ruiz has been banged up, but didn't want to clarify what specifically was wrong.

Ruiz said he hasn't felt good throwing the ball, but insisted, "I can still make better throws." Base stealers are 22 for 28 against Ruiz, a 21 percent caught stealing rate, which is slightly below his career rate of 27 percent. The Mets stole three bases off Ruiz on Tuesday and he bounced a few throws to second.

The catcher said he is optimistic about the shoulder pain going away soon and hopes to play Thursday.

"I’m OK," Ruiz said. I’ll take a day. My arm doesn’t feel that good."

But it appears as if the bangs and bruises are catching up with Ruiz. Since returning from a strained right knee that caused a three-game absence in mid-May, Ruiz is 2 for 21 (.095) at the plate.

"I took a couple days off and sometimes you don’t feel the same way at the plate," Ruiz said. "I’m trying to get my swing back. I’m working real hard right now. You’re not looking for excuses, but sometimes if you have something you think about with your body, it makes it harder.

"But I’m fine. I feel good. I’m doing my exercises and everything. Hopefully I feel better real quick."

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