Carlos Ruiz took his hacks for his Panamanian World Baseball Classic team. He did a duty for his country, and lent a hand when Panama wanted one of its most popular players the most. But now that the tournament has ended for Panama, Ruiz should sit.
Ruiz felt a neck strain during the classic. Though he was cleared to play — and did play — Ruiz still admitted some pain:
“I feel a little sore, but I can play.”
Sure players are sore in the spring, but Ruiz is of underrated importance to the Phillies. He was worth 12 more wins than a replacement player at catcher in 2008, and indications point to an offensive improvement in ’09. Even if his offense doesn’t quite improve, Ruiz still provides the Phils assurance in the pitcher-catcher relationship, and his defense remains one of the better sets in baseball.
While we don’t recognize Ruiz as a superior catcher, he is incredibly integral to the team’s success, and if the Phils want to start 2009 off on the right foot, they’ll have him ready at near 100 percent for opening night. Sit him for a week and let Ronny Paulino get more work.