Carlos Ruiz Ponders Future as He Reaches 10-year Mark in Career

Carlos Ruiz is aware of the situation. He knows this is probably his last year with the Phillies, maybe in baseball altogether. That’s why he’s taking time to smell the roses just a little bit every day.
He was overwhelmed by the fragrance Tuesday night when he became just the fourth Phillie to catch 1,000 games, joining Mike Lieberthal, Red Dooin and Bob Boone.
“It means a lot to me,” said Ruiz, reflecting on the accomplishment during a quiet moment in the dugout before Tuesday’s game.
Ruiz, originally signed for $8,000 out of his native Panama, gazed wistfully across the diamond at Citizens Bank Park.
“I came from nowhere, from a little town, and my goal was to play baseball in the major leagues,” he said. “I always tried to do my best every year in the minor leagues to get here and now …”
His voice trailed off.
“Now I feel like the Phillies are my family,” he continued. “It took me a lot of work. I tried to learn every single day here and I am real glad the fans supported me and also supported the whole team.”
Ruiz doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about leaving his “family.” Frankly, he’s having too much fun sharing time behind the plate with Cameron Rupp and playing the role of big brother to everyone on this surprising Phillies team to wonder much about what’s down the road.
But there could be possibilities for Ruiz down the road.
Not too far down the road, in fact.
In recent seasons, several teams have inquired about Ruiz at the trade deadline. For one reason or another, a deal was never struck, but Ruiz could be popular again this July for a team looking to supplement – and that’s a key word – its catching situation with a veteran who knows how to handle a pitching staff, make his way around October, and still have productive at-bats when he’s used right.
Now, let’s be real here. Any team acquiring Ruiz would not be getting a big-ticket difference-maker like the Phillies did with Cliff Lee in July 2009 or Hunter Pence in July 2011. But sometimes a marginal pickup can make a big difference for a playoff team. You can almost hear Cole Hamels telling his Texas Rangers brethren that. Texas is one of the teams that could find Ruiz appealing in a couple of months.
On July 14, Ruiz will reach another milestone.
He will reach 10 years of service time on that day, and as a player with 10 years in the majors and five consecutive with the same club, Ruiz will gain full no-trade rights. This won’t necessarily stand in the way of trading Ruiz – it didn’t for Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley – but it will give him something to think about.
“I don’t know if I can see myself in a different uniform, but if I have to go I have to go,” Ruiz said. “I believe any player would like to finish his career for the same team, but in this business you never know what can happen. Maybe I finish here, maybe I finish with somebody else. Who knows? But I am happy here.”
Trading Ruiz later in the season would give the Phils some room to take a look at either Andrew Knapp or Jorge Alfaro in the big leagues.
At 37, Ruiz dearly wants to get back to the postseason.
But his preference is to do it with the team with which he made five trips to the postseason from 2007 to 2011, winning it all in 2008. A couple of months ago, getting back to the postseason with this club would have sounded far-fetched, what with this team clearly building for the future, and it still might be far-fetched. But a quarter of the way into the season, the Phils are seven games over .500 and just a game back in the NL East. Crazier things have happened.
So, Ruiz was asked the question: If the Phils came to him with a trade opportunity after his 10-and-5 rights kicked in, would he accept of reject the deal?
“That’s a tough question for me because I believe in the group we have here,” he said. “I’m real happy with the way we’re playing and I would like to go to the playoffs with the young guys we have. I hope we continue to play that way and the Phillies don’t have to make a move, trade somebody, myself, (Ryan) Howard.
“That’s what I told all my friends in the clubhouse, Freddy (Galvis), (Andres) Blanco) – ‘You have to continue to play good because I want to stay here.’”
Time will tell if Ruiz stays or goes.
One thing is for sure: He’s having fun winning ballgames and contributing. He hit .211 with a .575 OPS in 86 games last year. All were career lows.
Manager Pete Mackanin vowed to watch Ruiz’s playing time this year and the rationing has helped Ruiz’s bat stay fresh and quick. He is hitting .269 with three homers, seven RBIs and a .794 OPS in 67 at-bats so far this season. He is enjoying splitting time with Rupp and working with the pitching staff.
“I feel good and healthy, no issues with my body,” Ruiz said. “That’s huge. I respect the decisions Pete makes. I know they have to play Rupp and he’s doing a great job. He’s improved. I’m good with the way we are doing things.
“I like the way we’re playing. We have good energy. My goal is to get to the postseason one more time with this team. We have to show people we’re ready. You never know.”

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