Carlos Ruiz, Phillies' Catching Situation a Balancing Act

MIAMI – Pete Mackanin said Saturday that the situation regarding catcher Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies' struggling offense would need close attention going forward.

Ruiz had appeared in just 12 games this season but was hitting .311 entering Saturday night's middle game of the three-game series against the Miami Marlins.

His lofty average is impressive, even more so on a club swinging at a .227 clip, which ranked marginally ahead of last-place Atlanta's average (.226) heading into Saturday's contest.

To make matters worse, starting catcher Cameron Rupp is hitting .250 and hasn't produced much – only one homer with four RBI in 18 games.

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Mackanin feels a rest is the reason the 37-year-old Ruiz's production is up. His .311 average ranks second on the team to leadoff hitter Odubel Herrera's .330.

"I believe that Chooch is swinging the bat well because he's not overworked," Mackanin said. I'm giving Rupp every opportunity. Rupp's been swinging the bat pretty well (though) he hasn't produced a lot of runs, but he gives you a pretty good at-bat most of the time."

"I don't want to jump on Chooch's bandwagon right now and say he's going to provide more offense because if you catch him three or four days in a row, it wears and tears on your body.

"But at some point I'll probably have to make that decision. If Rupp isn't hitting and Chooch is, I'll lean that way."

Mackanin said he has given serious thought to giving Ruiz an extra start during the week. On Saturday, the catcher was in the starting lineup for the third time since the calendar flipped to May.

"But I'm not a fortune teller," Mackanin said. "I've considered it."

The manager said Ruiz having a full, healthy offseason after shoulder surgery in October of 2014 has been beneficial.

Age is a consideration as well, Mackanin said, citing 39-year-old Atlanta backstop A.J. Pierzynski as the exception to the rule of a catcher being too old to perform at a quality level late in his career.

"That position beats you up," said Mackanin. "You see a few guys (who play longer). That guy in Atlanta – he's an enigma. Almost 40 years old and still catching and hitting.

"We're looking toward the future. I'd like to add to the offense if Chooch were giving us quality at-bats every time he plays…I might lean toward that. But I think it's too early to do that."

Throughout the process, Mackanin has been impressed by Ruiz's professionalism and work ethic.

"One thing about Chooch is you never question his work ethic, his desire," Mackanin said. "He takes his defense real seriously. He's not a guy who worries about his offense.

"The only time I've ever seen him mad was after a pitcher has a bad inning or gives up a big hit then he comes in and says, ‘Man, I shouldn't have called that pitch.' That's a real bonus, that's a defensive position.

"He's a quality player. I just want to keep him healthy because it is a long season."

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