Ruiz back in lineup; Phillies hope to keep Quintero

Ruiz back in lineup; Phillies hope to keep Quintero

April 28, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Carlos Ruiz hit .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs last season. (USA Today Images)

NEW YORK – Catcher Carlos Ruiz was back in the Phillies’ lineup Sunday after serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant late last season.

To make room for Ruiz on the roster, the Phillies designated catcher Humberto Quintero for assignment. Team officials debated whether to keep Quintero or Erik Kratz as the backup to Ruiz. Ultimately they decided on Kratz, who filled in while Ruiz was injured late last season and got the bulk of the reps while Ruiz was out this month.

The Phils have 10 days to dispose of Quintero’s contract. He could be released, traded or outrighted to Triple A if he clears waivers. Quintero had previously agreed to go to the minors for 45 days. Phillies officials are hopeful that he clears waivers and can remain in the system as depth.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” assistant GM Scott Proefrock said. “But there’s a chance he could still be with us and, selfishly, we hope he is.”

Manager Charlie Manuel wasted no time getting Ruiz in the lineup. He was holding down the No. 5 spot in the batting order between Michael Young and Domonic Brown. Ryan Howard got a day off with Mets lefty Jonathon Niese on the mound. The Phils countered with lefty Cole Hamels.

Ruiz, 34, had a career year in 2012. He hit .325 (50 points above his career average) with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 372 at-bats. He blossomed into a middle-of-the-order hitter and made his first all-star team.

Kratz and Quintero combined to hit just .209 with four doubles, two homers and nine RBIs while Ruiz was out. Their combined on-base percentage was just .242 and they had 21 strikeouts and four walks.

Needless to say, the Phils will welcome Ruiz’ bat – even if there’s a leveling off after last year’s across-the-board career-highs.

Ruiz was asked whether he believed he could be the same hitter he was last season.

“I feel great,” Ruiz said. “For me, that’s very important. I’m healthy and we’ll see what happens.”

As far back as early spring training, Ruiz has not answered specific questions about his use of Adderall last season. Adderall is used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Ruiz was using it without a therapeutic use exemption, hence the suspension.

Ruiz declined to say Sunday if he’d taken the necessary steps that would allow him to continue to take the drug.

“I don’t want to say anything about that,” he said. “It’s all in the past.

“It’s a nice feeling that everything is over. I’m real happy to come back.”