From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Add catcher to the Philadelphia Phillies' needs this offseason.All-Star Carlos Ruiz was suspended Tuesday for the first 25 games of next season following a positive test for an amphetamine. The 33-year-old catcher had a career year in 2012, hitting .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 114 games."I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant," Ruiz said in a statement issued by the Major League Baseball Players Association. "I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans. I will serve the imposed 25-game suspension to begin the season and I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013."Ruiz will be eligible to participate in spring training, including exhibition games."The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball's drug program," the team said. "We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program. We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013."Erik Kratz will likely begin the 2013 season as Philadelphia's starting catcher while Ruiz serves his suspension. Kratz, a career minor-leaguer, filled in nicely when he finally got a chance after Ruiz went down with a foot injury. Kratz hit .248, but had nine doubles, nine homers and 26 RBIs in only 141 at-bats. Kratz also threw out 45 percent of base-stealers (15 of 33).Still, losing Ruiz hurts a lineup that struggled mightily last year. Ruiz moved up from his usual No. 8 spot and took over for an injured Ryan Howard as the team's cleanup hitter for a chunk of the season. He batted fifth after Howard returned in July.The Phillies, who finished 81-81 after winning five straight NL East titles, have several holes to fill. Only Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are certain regulars. Utley, though, didn't play until late May in 2011 and late June in 2012 because of chronic knee injuries.General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. hopes to add a starting center fielder, another starting outfielder and a third baseman either through free agency or trades. Now he'll also need a backup catcher for Kratz for the first month. Brian Schneider served as the team's primary backup the last three seasons, but only batted .212 in 122 games.The Phillies have two top prospects catching in the minors. Sebastian Valle hit .253 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs in 80 games at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Tommy Joseph, acquired in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco, hit .257 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs for the Giants' and Phillies' Double-A affiliates.Ruiz became the eighth player suspended this year under the major league testing program, the second for amphetamines following Baltimore shortstop Ryan Adams. The eight suspensions are the most since 2007.This had to be Ruiz's second positive test for a stimulant. An initial positive for a stimulant does not trigger a suspension, only that the player must undergo follow-up testing.There have been 102 suspensions this year under the minor league testing program.
Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel’s season is over. The right-hander had surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Appel, 24, made eight starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley before going on the disabled list in late May after a start in which his fastball velocity dropped and he did not get out of the first inning.
The Phillies said Appel would require four to six months of recovery. He is expected to be ready for spring training.
The Phillies acquired Appel from Houston as part of the package for Ken Giles in December. The Phils also got Vince Velasquez, part of their major-league rotation, in the deal.
Appel was highly touted pitcher at Stanford and twice a first-round draft pick. The Pirates took him eighth overall in 2012. He did not sign, returned to school and was selected first overall by the Astros in 2013.
Appel struggled during his time in Houston’s minor-league system. The Phillies hoped a change of scenery would unlock his potential, but that did not happen in 2016. He went 3-3 with a 5.17 ERA in eight starts for Lehigh Valley before going on the disabled list with what at first was diagnosed with a shoulder strain. Team medical officials later zeroed in on an elbow issue.
In case you were too busy gushing over Ben Simmons-to-the-Sixers to notice or care, the Flyers had their draft this past weekend as well. Reviews were almost entirely positive, although choosing 18th overall — then trading down to No. 22 — doesn't come with the same hype or excitement as some of the other recent first-round picks around here.
Perhaps it should. ESPN's Craig Custance looked at the five NHL teams that improved the most on draft weekend, ranking the Flyers third behind only Toronto and Calgary, who made the Nos. 1 and 6 picks, respectively. And if that wasn't enough, at least one scout felt the Flyers came away with the best overall haul of all.
When asked which team had the best draft weekend, a veteran scout didn’t even need the question to be finished before he answered.
“Philadelphia,” he said. “Hands down. He who gets the most best players wins. Philly was No. 1. Calgary and Carolina were tied for No. 2.”
The pick of German Rubtsov was a popular one among multiple executives.
“Rubtsov is a top-10 talent,” one NHL general manager said. “They got a good mix of skill and weighty players.”
There's little debate Rubtsov was a major coup for the Flyers. Considered to be one of the best two-way forward in the draft, the Russian's fall was fueled largely by a doping scandal involving his under-18 club — although seemingly more because it limited scouts' opportunities to watch him play. It may be a couple years until he hits the states, but Rubtsov is a heck of a prospect.
The Flyers' draft net four more of the top 100 skaters in the draft according to Central Scouting, all forwards, including two more in the second round — Pascal Laaberge and Wade Allison. They also took this year's first goaltender, Carter Hart, No. 48 overall.
It sure sounds like the Flyers did well for themselves anyway, granted it's hard to say having never really seen any of these prospects. With that in mind, hearing a scout say this was easily the best draft class will suffice.
>> Five teams that improved most on draft weekend [Insider]
As the news of Buddy Ryan’s death circulated on Tuesday morning, the stories started to unearth themselves.
And there were plenty of stories.
For as good a defensive coach as Ryan was, he was an even bigger personality. Brash, vocal, unapologetic. He said what was on his mind and that usually led to plenty of laughs.
If you haven’t read it, go ahead and take some time to read this Reuben Frank story about a beat writer's dinner with Buddy that included a long wine list, a stretch limo and, of course, a ton of laughs.
On Tuesday’s addition of CSNPhilly's Quick Slants, former Eagles star Seth Joyner joined Frank and Ron Burke and delivered this gem of a story about the coach's loyalty to his players.
To set the scene, Joyner was set to enter his third NFL season in 1988 after making the minimum of $75,000 in his second year. In 1987, he started 12 games, had two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown. He also led the team’s linebackers in tackles with 96.
Joyner thought he deserved a pay raise, so he held out of training camp.
And Buddy had his back — just not publicly.
“I can remember the year that I held out,” Joyner started the story. “He basically told me before it happened, he was like 'listen, you're holding out, do what you have to do. When your contract is up, you have to do what you have to do for your family and I 100 percent respect that. And listen, there's some things that I have to do as the head coach of this football team. So you're going to hear some things, don't pay them any attention. Just go on about your business and you handle your business. When that contract is signed, I expect you to come in and do what you do best, play and go to work.'
“Well, you know, the whole time I was out of training camp and I spent the whole training camp holding out, he's in the newspaper, he's on the radio, he's just on the news, he's just lambasting me. 'He better get his blankety-blank in here. He's going to lose his job, this kid is playing well, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah. He's applying the pressure according to what management would want him to do to get me to hurry up and sign for less than what I should have signed for and just get into training camp.
“But I'm sitting at home laughing at all of this because we had already had that conversation. So I know what he's doing. Now, you tell me: how many head coaches would do that with their players, ahead of time to let them know what the circumstances are going to be? It's those types of things that made us love Buddy. It's those types of things that made us go to bat for him and would make us run through a brick wall for this guy. Because we knew that he had our back and he always was doing things for our benefit, even if it meant he would take heat.”
If you need some proof of the types of statements Ryan made publicly about Joyner’s holdout, look no further than this Aug. 16, 1988 Daily News story from Tim Kawakami (who plays a big role in Roob’s story).
Here’s what Buddy said in that one: "I think no question, Joyner needs to be in camp. I've told his agent that, and I've told Harry that. So somebody ought to give."
And: "It's like, I could call him right now and he'd be in here tomorrow. But I'm not going to do that because he has to live with what he gets, and I don't want him to be saying, 'Well, Buddy screwed me.' But for his own good, he ought to be here."
Meanwhile, Joyner was likely sitting in his living room laughing.
Joyner told his story Tuesday when asked about why players became so loyal to Ryan. Basically, it was because Ryan was loyal to them.
Joyner, last weekend, went with Clyde Simmons and Ryan’s longtime agent Jim Solano to visit his coach one last time in Kentucky, at the urging of Solano.
“It's amazing how things kind of work out sometimes,” Joyner said. “We got an opportunity to see him for a final time and it was special just to be with him, let him know that we loved him and he definitely shared the love back with us.”