Welcome Back, Chooch: Carlos Ruiz Batting 8th Tonight

Welcome Back, Chooch: Carlos Ruiz Batting 8th Tonight

Now here’s a welcome sight. Carlos Ruiz, who hasn’t played since May 19, will skip the remainder of his rehab appearances and join the Phillies tonight. Is the club starting to get healthy just in the nick of time to save their season?

Not so fast. The Fightins may have eked out a win over the Nationals last night, but coming off of that horrid 3-7 road trip, #PlayoffTalk is a long way off.

Getting Chooch back in the lineup is a good first step in the right direction though. Since Erik Kratz was lost to a torn meniscus on June 8, the Phillies haven’t had a whole lot of production from their catchers. Humberto Quintero and Steven Lerud were 5-for-25 with two runs and three RBI, but no walks and just one extra base hit.

Ruiz’s 2013 numbers don’t look all that great, in part because he was suspended for the first 25 games of the season. The stroke appeared to be returning before his injury though. He was in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak when he was removed early in his last game due to the hamstring injury that sidelined him for the past month.

Ruiz is batting .235 (.286 OBP) with five runs and two RBI this season. But after demonstrating a surprising amount of power in 2012, he has just two extra base hits in 16 games, none for home runs.

That could change tonight. The last time he saw Nats starter Ross Detwiler (2-4, 3.02), Chooch came through in a big way, jacking a three-run shot off of the lefty in a 6-3 Phils victory last September. Ruiz is 3-for-14 lifetime against Detwiler.

He told David Murphy before the game that his swing is feeling good.

"The two games that I played in Lehigh, it felt great," he said. "I felt real good at home plate and it surprised me because I hadn't faced live pitching in a long time, but the at bats I had felt really good. I'm ready to go."

Then again, Ruiz will be batting eighth tonight as Charlie Manuel tries to ease him back into the lineup, so perhaps expectations should be adjusted accordingly. On the bright side, Cliff Lee (8-2, 2.55) is on the hill for the Phillies, so you gotta like their chances to win tonight, which would guarantee a series win over their NL East rivals.

That might be the only bright side in this weather though. Sounds like they should be able to get the game in, albeit it there might be a delay.

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out


MIAMI — Jahlil Okafor called it a “tease.”

He was talking about his oh-so-brief 2016-2017 debut, but he could have also been summarizing the Sixers' constant state of taking one step forward and one (injured) leg back.

Okafor, a 6-11 center and the NBA’s third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played 7:32 minutes on Friday and produced four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover. He had been held out in camp previously because of knee soreness.

His return was the good news for the Sixers.

But, before Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat even started (see Instant Replay), the Sixers announced that center/forward Nerlens Noel will have a “minor surgical procedure in the coming days,” (see story).

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two years because of foot surgeries, said he empathizes with Noel.

“It’s hard,” Embiid said. “Obviously we need Nerlens if we want to win. But that’s basketball. Things happen. You can’t control injuries.

“I feel bad for him because this is the beginning of the season. Everybody wants to play the beginning of the season. But I’m sure he is going to work hard to come back even stronger.”

On the positive side for the Sixers, there was the return of Okafor … even it felt like baby steps for him.

“I started to feel really good,” said Okafor, who had surgery on his right knee in March and experienced soreness on that same knee Sept. 30. “It was kind of like a tease to me because I really got going. I wanted to continue to play, but that’s why I have the medical staff to keep me disciplined.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that he would keep Okafor to just six to eight minutes, and he was true to his word.

Okafor, who made the only shot he attempted from the floor and was 2 for 4 on free throws, did not play in the second half.

“The scoring piece to my game, that’s like riding a bicycle,” Okafor said. “I know I can score the ball. It was good to get back out there with my teammates and hear them cheer for me on the side.”

Okafor said he tried to convince Brown to let him extend past the script of no more than eight minutes.

“He was like, ‘Have your lawyer call my lawyer,'" Okafor said. “We will talk about the season home opener (on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City), and hopefully I can increase my minutes.”

Okafor said he didn’t want to put a number on how many minutes he thought he could’ve played in his season debut except to say he knew he could play more.

Interestingly, Embiid, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes, said he felt Okafor was a bit fatigued.

“I think he was a little bit tired,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he hasn’t played in a while. But just like me, he’s going to dig down. He is a proven scorer. He can do whatever he wants on the court.

“Once he gets back in shape, we as a team are going to be really good.”

Okafor was a minus-5 while he was on the court. But Brown said he was impressed by some of the less-hyped aspects of Okafor’s game.

“I thought he was really good defensively,” Brown said. “He sat in his stance and moved his feet. I thought he did a great job of fronting the post.”

Brown said the Noel injury was almost unfair.

“Clearly, it was a situation in the preseason where he would have played a lot,” Brown said. “The timing is unfortunate.”

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs

Penn Athletics

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Alek Torgersen threw four touchdown passes, three to Justin Watson, and Penn rolled to a 42-7 victory over Yale in the first night game in Yale Bowl history.

Torgersen completed 16 of 23 passes for 229 yards and rushed for 66 yards. Watson had 10 receptions for 166 yards with touchdowns covering 5, 41 and 35 yards.

Torgersen moved into a tie for second with 47 career TD passes and Watson moved into fourth in career receptions (161) and touchdowns (17) for the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy Leauge).

Tre Solomon rushed for 120 yards, seven shy of the career high he set a week earlier, on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run, for Penn, which won its fourth straight. Cameron Countryman had a 10-yard touchdown reception and Karekin Brooks had a 13-yard run for his first career touchdown.

Penn, which led 35-0 at halftime, finished with 508 yards and held the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2) to 229.