Carlos Ruiz, here surrounded by reporters on Wednesday, received a 25-game suspension for testing positive for the ADHD drug Adderall for the second time. (Kevin Flatley/CSN)
CLEARWATER, Fla. – It was a bizarre scene.
On Wednesday, Carlos Ruiz sat at a picnic table just outside the Phillies' clubhouse at Bright House Field. The catcher – who was suspended for the first 25 games of the season by Major League Baseball for using Adderall without a prescription – was surrounded by a semi-circle of cameras and microphones and digital recorders.
He is a soft-spoken guy on most days, but Ruiz was even harder to hear this time. It was tough to tell if his tone was hushed because of the sensitive subject matter or muted by the lawnmower and icemaker in the background and the planes flying overhead.
It was a warm day, and beads of sweat collected on the tip of his nose while he talked. There were a lot of questions for Ruiz. Many of his answers were barely-tweaked variations on the same theme.
“First, I apologize to my organization, the fans, my teammates, my whole family,” Ruiz said. “I feel so bad. I’m trying to put everything behind [me] and do my best this year.
“For me, it’s hard, man. I leave my team for 25 games but I want to play. At the same time, I feel like they support me. I have a lot of good friends. I’m ready to come back and do my best.”
He apologized several times. What he didn’t do was explain the background about what happened. Adderall is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it’s banned by Major League Baseball (unless a player has a prescription) because it’s an amphetamine. Ruiz frequently regurgitated the same lines. More often than not, his talking points avoided the question altogether.
Why were you taking the Adderall?
“I got caught two times, and I pay for that,” Ruiz replied. “Like I said, I want to put that behind [me] and focus on this year.”
What kind of effect did Adderall have on you? What was the benefit?
“Like I said, I make a mistake and I pay for that,” Ruiz said. “I put that behind [me]. I’m ready for this season.”
Do you have something to prove? Some people will think what you did was helped by Adderall.
“It’s something that I have to put on the side,” said Ruiz, who had a career year last season, hitting .325 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs, and 68 RBIs. “I know that I was working real hard ... I’m going to do my best.”
That went on for a while. More than once, Ruiz said he was “so sorry” and that he trusts himself to “put up good numbers.”
The strangest part of the exchange, which lasted just under eight minutes, happened towards the end. When someone asked Ruiz if he would try to get a prescription in order to keep taking Adderall, he had an interesting response.
“That’s something that’s private between my doctor and me,” Ruiz said.
But after what happened, would Major League Baseball even allow you to get a prescription for the drug? Here, again, Ruiz retreated and employed a familiar refrain.
“Baseball has rules,” Ruiz said. “When you make a mistake, you have to pay. I pay my 25 games. Like I said, I apologize to my organization, my teammates, my family, my fans. I’m trying to put everything behind [me] and get ready for the season.”
But have you ever been diagnosed with ADHD?
“Like I said,” Ruiz responded, “I got caught two times.”
And with that, a PR handler cut everyone off and ended the interview.