The good news was that an MRI revealed no structural damage.
The bad news was that Ruiz has inflammation and is expected to get an injection that will sideline him for an additional 3 to 5 days. And that there is no way to be absolutely certain how long the problem might persist. "Wrists are tricky, man," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. conceded.
The Phillies made a series of moves since the end of last season that depleted much of their catching depth, so it was probably inevitable that they would find themselves worrying at the worst possible time about how quickly Ruiz can come back. The baseball gods have a wicked sense of humor that way.
There's no way to minimize how significant this issue is. In its own way, it's as worriesome as Brad Lidge blowing his 11th save opportunity last night. And all the Phillies can do right now is cross their fingers and hope for the best. After all, if pitching is 90 percent of the game, then what percentage of pitching is catching?
"I don't know," bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer said. "But you've got to have a guy back there you feel confident with. Because if you don't have confidence in him, you might not have confidence in yourself."
The catcher runs the game. The catcher guides the pitcher. The catcher can play a huge part in helping win a game, even if he strikes out every time he goes to the plate.
"We can't afford to lose nobody that plays that much," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're losing one of our starters. And the catcher is very important."
Or, as Amaro said simply: "Clearly, we need Chooch [Ruiz] on our club."
Paul Bako is a competent backup. He's also 37 years old, was signed to a minor league contract in May and called up in early June. He probably isn't physically up to catching every day. And what if he gets hurt? During the first game of Tuesday night's doubleheader he twice tumbled into the dugout chasing pop fouls.
That's when Paul Hoover flashes in front of their eyes.
A year ago at this time, the Phillies had more options. But Amaro, with his eyes wide open, has dealt away a lot of that cushion.
One of his first official acts after succeeding Pat Gillick as general manager was to trade Jason Jaramillo, once considered a solid prospect, to the Pirates.
In return he got another catcher, Ronny Paulino. But Paulino didn't make much of an impression in spring training and, before camp broke, was sent to the Giants for lefthander Jack Taschner.
You never know. The Giants almost immediately flipped Paulino, trading him to the Marlins. Last night, Paulino started his 59th game for the Fish. He was batting .279 overall and .337 since the All-Star break.
Jaramillo, meanwhile, has started 58 games for Pittsburgh while hitting a respectable .259 overall.
Chris Coste was waived in July. And Lou Marson was included in the package that went to Cleveland for Cliff Lee before the trade deadline.
Just like that, the Phillies left their flanks exposed at the most important spot on the field except the mound.
"Hey, any time you move a premium position [it's a risk]," Amaro said. "We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we moved Marson. We left ourselves fairly bare. And, yes, it is important. But we felt like the risk was worth taking. I mean, you can't cover for all the issues that happen. But if Chooch goes down for any length of time right now, it would be troublesome for us. There's no question about it."
Look, trading Jaramillo and Paulino are decisions that didn't seem eventful at the time. They have taken on a certain weight and gravitas only because of a sequence of unfortunate events and the sort of wisdom that only 20-20 hindsight can bring. And nobody would argue that they should have let Marson stand in the way of acquiring Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.
Even Amaro seemed to have some second thoughts about letting Coste go, though, considering that he had an option left and they could have simply stashed him at Triple A Lehigh Valley as insurance.
"We could have been selfish and sent him down," the general manager said. "Businesswise, what we did was not the smartest thing. But personally, for him, I think it was the right thing to do. Had we been a little less sensitive, we would have sent him down and we would have had him at this time. But we did not do that."
Maybe it will all work out. Maybe Ruiz will come back and be just fine and the Phillies will take another ride down Broad Street.
But if Ruiz is slow to recover and it comes back to bite them, they might just look back and wonder if there was anything they should have done differently.
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