At some point in the last five years, the Phillies have started a former All-Star at every position except for one. They haven't had an All-Star catcher since Mike Lieberthal was still around.
But their current catcher is certainly putting together a nice All-Star campaign. Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-3 with a home run, a walk and three RBI in the Phillies' 7-3 win over the Padres on Friday. Ruiz has six home runs in 29 games this season; last year, he hit six home runs in 132 games.
"I don't think about hitting home runs," Ruiz said. "I try to have a good at-bat, working the middle of the field. That's my priority right now. I feel great, and I'm so happy to have that win today."
Ruiz leads all National League catchers in home runs and all major league catchers in RBI (22). While he wouldn't mind a trip to the All-Star Game, Ruiz has bigger priorities.
"I want to go back to the World Series," Ruiz said Friday. "Yeah, I'd like to make an All-Star team. My first thing is win, and then bring this team back to the World Series."
With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both sidelined, the Phillies needed someone to step up on offense and Ruiz has answered the call. He's hitting .340, which ranks 10th best in baseball, regardless of position.
"He hammered some balls (tonight)," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's been moving the ball around the field. That's what makes his hitting good. He's really seeing the ball good and he's a little more aggressive in his load. The ball is jumping off his back foot. His weight shift is good."
Manuel doesn't plan on stuffing the ballot box himself, but he did stump for his catcher as a deserving All-Star Game candidate.
"If Chooch keeps playing the way he does, I don't see any reason in the world he wouldn't make the All-Star team," Manuel said. "He's very valuable not only as a hitter, but as a catcher. He's a big part of our team. He's rounded into a real good catcher in the league. When he hits, he becomes a good comparison to (St. Louis's Yadier) Molina."
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