LOS ANGELES — Carlos Ruiz did not play Sunday, which forced him to contemplate a 1 for 12 slump. He arrived at Dodger Stadium early on Monday, vowed to eliminate the past, and went to work.
He spent time in the batting cage with focus on his back leg. Ruiz decided he needed more power from his knees. He was not driving the ball; his first 14 games yielded a paltry .286 slugging percentage. Ryne Sandberg inserted Ruiz into the cleanup spot Monday because the Dodgers started a lefthander.
"And finally, in the game, I felt real good and I made good contact," Ruiz said.
He reached base four times. He belted three extra-base hits and provided Cliff Lee a two-run lead before he stepped on the mound.
Ruiz, who signed a three-year, $26 million deal last winter, entered Monday without an RBI in 58 plate appearances. Chris Owings, a light-hitting shortstop for Arizona, was the only player in baseball with more plate appearances (64) and zero RBIs.
"Facing a lefty sometimes that will give a guy like him a boost," Sandberg said. "Obviously, he came through in a big way."
Ruiz raised his OPS by 167 points to .780 with his productive Monday. He spent all of 2013 trying to atone for lost time due to a suspension for Adderall and a strained hamstring. His final two months — a .788 OPS in 168 plate appearances — convinced the Phillies to retain their catcher.
They hope Ruiz's revelations prior to a breakout game will stick.
"For me, I've been working the count and go from there," Ruiz said. "If I was thinking I don't have an RBI, I'd be putting pressure on myself. So I had to stay strong and continue to work hard."