Phillies' Ruiz: Right man behind the plate

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz: "I know my job behind home plate is big for the rotation. But at the same time when I go hit, I want to do my job, too."
Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz: "I know my job behind home plate is big for the rotation. But at the same time when I go hit, I want to do my job, too."
Posted: March 31, 2011

The compliments for the catcher have been coming for quite a while now.

The pitchers love throwing to Carlos Ruiz, and the coaching staff loves the way he runs a game.

Ruiz, entering his fifth season as the Phillies' No. 1 catcher, was considered the team MVP by many of his peers in 2010. He set a career high and led the team with a .302 batting average.

Of course, he also caught a perfect game by Roy Halladay during the regular season and a no-hitter in the postseason. Halladay showered his catcher with kind words and gifts after those games. Ruiz has the pitching rubber from the perfect game against Florida at Sun Life Stadium and a replica of Halladay's 2010 Cy Young Award.

"He is able to make adjustments during a game based on what he sees," Halladay said. "You have your plan, and he's very good about it. But there are times he goes away from it, and it is usually because he saw something or he wants to try something. And he's usually right."

The fact that the best pitcher in baseball fell in love with his catcher's work in his first season in Philadelphia is the ultimate compliment.

Equally high praise for Ruiz came recently from Brian Schneider, the Phillies reserve catcher who spent his first season in Philadelphia last year.

"I admire that he's not just mentally tough, he's physically tough," Schneider said. "I admire how he'd get banged up - foul balls, foul tips, being sore - and he would still go out there every day. He never complained. He just did his job."

With second baseman Chase Utley out indefinitely because of a knee injury and Jayson Werth gone from the lineup, the Phillies might need even more from Ruiz offensively this year.

A catcher's most important job is always going to be handling the pitching staff and running the game from behind home plate. But Ruiz said his offensive value is catching up to his work behind the plate.

"I think both parts of my job are important now," Ruiz said. "I proved to myself last year that I could pull everything together. I know my job behind home plate is big for the rotation and the bullpen guys. But at the same time when I go hit, I want to do my job, too. I feel like I can do some good things for my team on offense. But I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I want to relax and have fun."

Ruiz, 32, took eight years to get to the big leagues and five years before he hit .300, something he had done four times during his long minor-league career.

"I think he's one of those guys who is maturing late," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He kind of got to the big leagues late, and he started maturing at the big leagues late."

Schneider hopes that the Phillies don't lean too much on Ruiz offensively even though he thinks his catching friend is capable of producing.

"I hope that's not the case," Schneider said. "Honestly, because catching every day, it's a mentally tough game back there. What he did last year I think was far beyond what anybody thought he would do. I just hope he doesn't try to do more than that because what he did last year was unbelievable.

"I think he's way more valuable behind the plate than anything he does offensively."

Schneider and Ruiz have developed a tight relationship when it comes to the defensive part of their games.

"We're constantly talking and trying to help each other out. But he knows, and I know, that he's the main guy. He's the honcho and the one that is going to take us to the next level. I'm constantly his biggest fan back there."


Ruiz's Career Statistics

Year, Team   AB   R   H   HR   RBI   AVG   

2006, Phillies   69   5   18   3   10   .261   

2007, Phillies   374   42   97   6   54   .259   

2008, Phillies   320   47   70   4   31   .219   

2009, Phillies   322   32   82   9   43   .255   

2010, Phillies   371   43   112   8   53   .302   

Career   1456   169   379   30   191   .260   


Ruiz Among Phillies Catchers

Carlos Ruiz ranks ahead of former star catchers Bob Boone and Darren Daulton on the Phillies' all-time list of batting averages for catchers with at least 450 games played. Here are the numbers:

   G   AB   R    H   2B    3B    HR    RBI    BB    SO    OBP    SLG    AVG    

 Spud Davis   814    2462   234    790    134    11    53    363    197    173    .368    .449    .321

Butch Henline    576    1706   226    519    80    17    36    231    147    121    .364    .434    .304

Jack Clements    997    3717    536    1074    193    53    70    636    306   299   NA    .426    .289

Jimmie Wilson    838    2545    305    732    119    11    22    315    172    152    .328    .369    .288

Mike Lieberthal    1174   4141   528   1137   255    10    150    609    331    560    .338    .450    .275

Tim McCarver    622    1456   172   396   79    12    26 1   166    198   119   .359    .396    .272

Carlos Ruiz*    487   1456   169   379   98    5    30    191   193   188   .353   .396   .260

 Bob Boone    1125   3690   349   957   172   21   65   456   .65   311   .325    .370   .259

Stan Lopata    821   2545   375   655   116   25   116   393   389   481    .356   .459   .257

Darren Daulton    1020   3223   440   785   176   17   123   525   546   647   .354   .423   .244

Andy Seminick   985   2936   385   716   102   21   123   411   450   591   .349   .419   .244

Red Dooin   1219   3832   321   922   137   29   10   335   150   64   .267   .299   .241

Bill Killefer   636   1958   149   471   56   13   4   156   57   99   .261   .289   .241

Clay Dalrymple   1006   2881   225   674   95   22   50   312   351   378   .319   .334   .234

* active


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

 

|
|
|
|
|