Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has passed a few tests in dealing with his back injury, and he realizes that the next one will come Monday when the Phillies' plane lands in Florida to begin the three-game set with the Marlins.
On Sunday, the Phillies placed Ruiz on the disabled list, retroactive to April 28, with lower back inflammation. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday when the Phillies begin a weekend series in Atlanta against the Braves.
Righthander Joe Blanton (right elbow impingement) is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Monday and start that night's game against the Marlins.
Ruiz said he expects to be playing on Friday, but he acknowledged that a big test for his back will be handling the flight to Florida.
"After the flight, I hope everything will be good," Ruiz said before Sunday's game against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
Ruiz said he felt good after taking swings in the batting cage and running before Sunday's game. He also caught a bullpen session from Cliff Lee.
"I was running outside and didn't feel anything," Ruiz said. "I took a lot of swings in the cage."
Ruiz plans to take batting practice before Monday's game at Sun Life Stadium against the Marlins. Then he plans to head to extended spring training in Clearwater.
Ruiz, has not played since suffering the back injury April 27 against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. He said he originally hurt his back on April 19 in a 9-0 loss to visiting Milwaukee.
"[Rickie] Weeks hit a ball in front of the plate and I threw to first base and that is when I started to feel it," Ruiz said.
The play came in the seventh inning. Weeks was given a single and advanced to second on Ruiz's errant throw.
In the bottom of the inning, Brian Schneider pinch-hit for Ruiz, but the next day Ruiz was back in the starting lineup against the Brewers.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he expects Ruiz to be ready on Friday. He said placing him on the disabled list was the best move, since he can return after an off-day on Thursday.
"We felt like he would be ready to play sometime in middle of the week, but why not take a few more days and place him on there and give him the extra couple of days rest so he is prepared to go?" Amaro said.
Amaro said that Roy Oswalt, placed on the disabled list Friday with lower back inflammation, is progressing. He likely won't be able to pitch when he is eligible to be activated for Friday's game in Atlanta, the GM said. Oswalt threw a bullpen session on Sunday and will do so again on Tuesday, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee.
"He probably is not going to be ready for the weekend," Amaro said.
Kyle Kendrick replaced Oswalt and allowed two hits in five innings to earn the win in Saturday's 3-0 victory over the Braves. Amaro said that it had not been decided who would make the start on Friday.
Amaro said it's possible that Jose Contreras, on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right elbow, could throw off a mound sometime this week.
Amaro said he was pleased with Chase Utley's performance in his first extended spring training appearance on Saturday. Rehabilitating from tendinitis and bone inflammation in his right knee, Utley went 5 for 7 with two home runs. He played in the field every other inning.
There were no games on Sunday.
"Obviously to swing the bat like that, you have to be encouraged," Amaro said. "He is not going to swing the bat like that all the time. More importantly, he felt OK [Sunday], which is good."
The Braves have played six games against the Phillies and have yet to face Roy Halladay.
"It doesn't get much easier when you face their other starters, but I guess it is just coincidence we missed him the first two times around," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.
Then he added with a laugh, "And I don't think you will hear anybody here complaining."
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