A source said Ruben Amaro Jr. recently discussed with Ruiz the possibility of playing some third base in 2013. Amaro confirmed Wednesday the team has "talked internally a little bit" about the idea and did not consider it far-fetched.
The Phillies are without an answer at third for next season, and options are not exactly plentiful.
"I don't think he could do it every day," Amaro said, "but it could give him a spell from behind the plate and put him at third base from time to time. He takes ground balls every day. We've kicked it around. It's not an idea that's that far off-base.
"It's difficult to think he could do that on an everyday basis. His value obviously is behind the plate because of what he can do. But, I mean, listen, sometimes you have to keep an open mind."
Ruiz, of course, was once signed in Panama for $8,000 as a second baseman. He has played third base twice in the majors for a total of two innings under emergency circumstances.
It's impossible to imagine any scenario that takes Ruiz away from catching a majority of the time. The club holds a $5 million option for 2013 that is sure to be exercised. Discussions on a long-term extension could follow.
Obviously there is risk in signing a catcher aged 35 or older to a multiyear extension, but Ruiz did not start catching full time until he was 21. His offensive game has matured with age. Being able to sometimes play third base would simply provide flexibility and could lessen the load on his knees.
"That would certainly be thinking outside the box," Amaro said. "But there's nothing wrong with that."
The Phillies shuffled utility infielders Wednesday by designating Mike Fontenot for assignment and recalling Mike Martinez.
Fontenot, 32, was signed to a minor-league deal and batted .289 with a .683 OPS in 47 games. Martinez, 28, spent all of last season on the roster as a Rule 5 pick and is a career .185 hitter in the majors.
"We need Martinez strictly for a defensive standpoint," Manuel said. "If we need him to, he can go play third base late in the game, play shortstop or second, or he could fill in for [Chase] Utley and [Jimmy] Rollins when we're going to play him. Fontenot swung the bat well from the lefthand side, but right now we're loaded with lefthanded hitters."
Righthander Josh Lindblom, acquired in the Shane Victorino trade, joined the team and pitched to two batters Wednesday, giving up a single and recording a strikeout. He is expected to assume a late-inning role as the primary righthanded setup man. "I have to start over and earn my way into whatever role is given to me," Lindblom said. . . . The Phillies will carry three catchers because of Ruiz's foot injury but also because the 12th pitcher was seldom used, Amaro said. . . . The Phillies released righthander Brian Sanches. He had a 9.95 ERA in six games.
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