All-Star Quality

Catcher Carlos Ruiz was leading all of baseball in batting at the halfway point.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz was leading all of baseball in batting at the halfway point. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 03, 2012

MIAMI - Midway through a season in which nothing has gone according to plan, at least the Phillies have Carlos Ruiz. He was named to his first all-star team Sunday and is the bright spot in a dark season.

"Without a doubt," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Not even close."

The catcher is one of three players from the last-place Phillies who will represent the National League on July 10 in Kansas City. Pitchers Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon also were selected.

Ruiz, lacking national notoriety, finished some 3 million votes behind San Francisco's Buster Posey in fan balloting for NL catchers. But he was a lock to be added as a reserve. He led all of baseball with a .358 batting average entering Sunday's games. His .423 on-base percentage ranked third, and his .585 slugging percentage was eighth.

He is having a career year at age 33.

Ruiz phoned his mother in Panama after learning the news from Manuel.

"She said, 'Congratulations' like four times," Ruiz said. "I'm so happy to go. I still can't believe it."

His Phillies teammates often have spoken about how underrated Ruiz is, even before his torrid first half at the plate. Righthander Roy Halladay routinely calls Ruiz "the best catcher in the National League", and now he has an all-star bid as proof.

"I'm thrilled for him," Halladay said. "I think we've all felt like he's been deserving in the past and definitely deserving this year. I'm really excited for him. I think it's going to mean a lot to him. He's worked hard to become the player he is. He means a lot to our team, not only for the way he plays, but who he is."

Manuel had the highest of praise for Ruiz.

"Carlos is a great example of what baseball is, how he's improved in the last few years and the player he's become," the manager said. "That's kind of what you work for in this game, and what you strive for."

All three of the Phillies all-stars were managerial selections by Tony La Russa. None placed on the players' vote.

Hamels has a 3.08 ERA in 16 starts and has struck out 111 in 111 innings. The 28-year-old has made the all-star team in two consecutive seasons and is nearing a major payday in free agency. He will be inundated with questions about trade rumors.

Papelbon, signed this winter to the richest deal for a reliever in baseball history, was selected to his fifth all-star team and first since 2009 with Boston. The 31-year-old righthander is tied for fourth in the NL with 18 saves and has blown only one opportunity.

Hamels and Papelbon each earned a $50,000 bonus for being selected. Ruiz's contract stipulated a $25,000 bonus.

"It's going to be a special day," Ruiz said.


Contact Matt Gelb

at mgelb@phillynews.com

or follow @magelb on Twitter.

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