Ruiz out of lineup in what could be his Phillies finale

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Phillies team president David Montgomery made his way through the visiting clubhouse at Turner Field on Sunday morning, sending well wishes to his players.

He stopped and chatted with veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz for several minutes. He shook hands with Ruiz twice.

It’s likely neither man wanted to say goodbye.

Carlos Ruiz was not in the starting lineup for Sunday’s season finale. He is nursing a sore left hand.

Ruiz may have played his last game in a Phillies uniform already: he can file for free agency for the first time in his career following the World Series.

Like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels, Ruiz has been a part of a core that have 2008 World Series rings and have never worn anything other than Phillies uniforms. As he sat at his locker stall, Ruiz couldn’t help but think if it was the last day he’d change into that uniform.

“If I say no, I’d be lying to you,” said Ruiz. “Yesterday I don’t think I was sleeping (well) because, like you said (it could be it). But we’ll see.”

Of course, there’s a pretty good chance Ruiz will be back in a Phillies uniform in 2014. A deal would even go down within the next month, before Ruiz files for free agency.

The Phils do not have an in-house replacement at catcher, the free agent market behind Atlanta’s Brian McCann is very thin, and the righthanded-hitting Ruiz fits well into the lefthanded-heavy Phillies lineup.

But Ruiz will go home to Panama next weekend and let his agent and the Phillies front office do their respective jobs.

“Right now I know we’re open to talk,” Ruiz said. “But I don’t know. Right now I’m planning to go back home with my family. I’ll let my agent work and see what they got for me.”

Ruiz, who turns 35 in January, hit .268 in 92 games this season. In the span of his current contract, which paid him $13.35 million over four seasons, Ruiz hit .295 with a .374 OBP and .810 OPS in 459 games.

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