SAN FRANCISCO - Carlos Ruiz took part in his daily pregame routine during batting practice at AT&T Park yesterday. He fielded ground balls at third base alongside Michael Young.
But for the second time in the last five games, Ruiz did not start behind the plate when the Phillies took the field later in the night to take on the San Francisco Giants.
Erik Kratz started at catcher in place of Ruiz, who is hitting .100 (2-for-20) since returning from his 25-game suspension.
Over the weekend, Ruiz said he's still attempting to get into a comfort zone at the plate after his near monthlong absence.
Ruiz is coming off a career year when he hit .325 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI, and earned an All-Star bid. In the last three seasons, from 2010-12, Ruiz hit .303 with a .388 OBP and an .842 OPS.
"I try to use the middle of the field," Ruiz said. "When I try to do that, that's when you're going to swing at better pitches. You're going to let the ball travel a little bit more and you're going to see if it's a strike. I think that helped me a lot. And I felt more comfortable with myself. I feel OK swinging with two strikes, I can still drive the ball, put it the other way. When you put all of that together, that's when you're going to have success.
"When you're struggling you don't want to get to two strikes, you want to swing early. That's the difference. When you feel good, you'll take pitches more. You're looking for one pitch, and that's it. That's the kind of thing you have to start putting together."
Ruiz spent the majority of April playing in extended spring training games. Although it acted as his regular spring training, it also came against young pitchers who weren't ready for Class A, let alone the big leagues.
"They're young kids . . . they throw balls everywhere," Ruiz said. "I tried to take some pitches, try to get my tempo back. Last few games I started to feel better, and then that's when I got hit by a pitch . For me, it was tough. But the thing is, I feel good and I still believe in myself . . . when I play a little bit more, that's when I feel better and more comfortable."
Mayberry in center
John Mayberry Jr. started in centerfield for the fifth time in the last 10 games. But Charlie Manuel quickly dismissed the idea that he could platoon Mayberry with the struggling Ben Revere, who entered the series hitting .212 with a .264 OBP in 27 games.
" hit .294 in the big leagues in 500 at-bats last year," Manuel said. "He can hit. He's scuffling right now."
Manuel said he simply went with matchups. Although the lefthanded-hitting Revere entered 2-for-2 off Madison Bumgarner, the righthanded Mayberry had a home run in six career at-bats against the Giants starter.
Mayberry's leadoff single in the second ignited a three-run rally off Bumgarner last night. He entered mired in a 3-for-27 slump.
"I can play Mayberry some against lefties," Manuel said. "When I want to rest Brown or Ben, I can use him. I'm looking for someone to help us."
Biddle not ready
Roy Halladay's injury will not force GM Ruben Amaro Jr. into rushing the team's top pitching prospect to the big leagues.
Jesse Biddle, a first-round pick and Philly native, is a longshot to make the jump from Double A to Philadelphia in 2013. Amaro said there's no chance he jumps into the rotation in place of Halladay.
"No. He is not," Amaro said of whether Biddle was a legitimate candidate. "Growing pains, he had a tough one last time out. Everybody wants to bring him."
Biddle, 21, is 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA in six games at Double A Reading. Biddle allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning in his most recent start, Saturday in New Hampshire.
"He had an allergy attack before he pitched. He had a little bit of an excuse," Amaro said. "He's a very young kid and he's not ready for the big leagues, period."
Amaro said the Phils could look externally for pitching should Halladay be out for an extended period of time. The Phils made a minor move yesterday, signing veteran lefthander Greg Smith to a minor league deal. Smith didn't just sign, he pitched, too.
The former Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics pitcher took the mound for Reading. Smith allowed one run on one hit in five innings while striking out four and walking two in a 4-3 loss.
Smith, 29, last pitched in the major leagues in 2010 with Colorado. He went 9-10 with a 3.97 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) for Triple A Salt Lake (Angels) in 2012. In his only full major league season, Smith went 7-16 with a 4.16 ERA for Oakland in 2008. He was traded to the Rockies that offseason, with Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street, in the deal that sent Matt Holliday to Oakland.