It goes without saying that the Philadelphia Phillies are going to miss their All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz for the first 25 games of 2013, as he sits on the sidelines while serving out his suspension for violating MLB‘s banned substances policy.
What the team can take solace in, however, is that he will likely come back without missing a single step.
At least, that’s the kind of form Ruiz is showing the Phillies right now in Spring Training, while he’s still eligible to play games against fellow big leaguers. Coming off a strong 2-for-2 day on Wednesday, the catcher followed it up on Saturday with his first homer of the Grapefruit League season, hitting it out against Josh Johnson – one of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ best.
Granted, the wind was really blowing out during the day, then the two teams did combine for 17 runs on 23 hits, but Ruiz continued to show good patience on top of the power display, drawing his second walk of the spring, and playing six full innings behind the plate before being replaced by Erik Kratz.
If you like crazy-looking small sample Spring Training numbers, you’ll like the fact that the 34-year old currently has a .444/.500/.778 triple slash.
Yes, it comes off of nine at-bats, but don’t think he can’t maintain it for the rest of the spring schedule though – the numbers are almost a mirror image of the equally crazy 479/.500/.771 spring Ruiz put up over 48 spring at-bats in 2012, and he parlayed that into a 5.5 fWAR season that featured a .935 OPS.
He won’t get to show that right away in 2013, but, considering that his backup Kratz also went deep for the first time this spring, maybe the veteran’s success is rubbing off on the guy whom the Philllies will call on to stay above water over the first month of so in the coming season.
Put his impending return along with the fact that Chase Utley is healthy enough to play in Spring Training for the first time in years, and that Ryan Howard hit his second home run (against R.A. Dickey, no less) in just 21 at bats on Saturday, and the positives for this team are piling up in a hurry.
Maybe there’s a reason why the Phillies are an optimistic group these days after all, despite the tough competition they’ll face in the NL East.