Carlos Ruiz went home to his ranch in Panama during the all-star break, a moment to both recharge and celebrate a remarkable milestone. Ruiz, on Thursday, reached 10 years of major-league service time - all with the Phillies, the team that in 1998 made an $8,000 investment in Ruiz.
"Wow," his wife, Haidee, told him. "Where did the time go?"
Time, right now, is precious for Ruiz. He is a 37-year-old backup catcher on a rebuilding team. He wants one more shot at the postseason, a chance that will not likely come unless the Phillies trade him.
"I would like to taste that again," Ruiz said Friday.
Ruiz started in 34 of the team's first 91 games. Cameron Rupp, one of the top slugging catchers in baseball, has played his way into a larger role. Manager Pete Mackanin said he expected the same arrangement in the second half of the season.
"I find it hard not to put him in the lineup," Mackanin said of Rupp, "because he is hitting the ball so well and doing a good job."
The veteran Ruiz understands the situation.
"I'm real happy to play for this organization," Ruiz said. "It's my first team and I have played here for a lot of years. I respect everything the Phillies are doing right now. I understand they have to give the time to Rupp.
"The only thing that's in my hands is to continue to play hard."
Ruiz, technically, has some control because of his 10-year milestone. The veteran catcher now owns full no-trade rights, although that is mostly moot. If the Phillies approached him with a potential suitor that is in contention, it would be hard to reject.
The Phillies, if they keep Ruiz beyond the Aug. 1 trade deadline, are sure to pay him a $500,000 buyout at the end of the season rather than exercise a $4.5 million option for 2017. They would not receive much return in a trade for Ruiz.
But even with his decline in both playing time and production, Ruiz could offer something to a contending team. He has started 46 postseason games, tied for eighth most among catchers since 1903. Pitchers, for years, have lauded Ruiz's game-calling abilities.
His .336 on-base percentage ranks 12th among 44 catchers with 100 plate appearances. His .229 batting average is 25th and his .331 slugging percentage is 32nd.
"You hope to stay with one team," Ruiz said. "But you never know. It's a business. You could be with somebody else. The only thing I can say right now is I feel healthy. For whatever team needs some help behind the plate, I still feel great. I feel strong."
Mackanin said Aaron Nola was slotted fourth in the postbreak rotation, so pitching coach Bob McClure could see the young righthander throw a side bullpen session this weekend. Nola is scheduled to pitch Monday after a two-week hiatus. . . . Jerad Eickhoff will start Saturday opposite righthander Logan Verrett, who has replaced Matt Harvey in the Mets rotation.