Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ruiz ready for center stage in tonight's Midsummer Classic

PBR - The secret on Carlos Ruiz is out.

Thanks to a stellar offensive first half, the 33-year-old catcher will be on baseball's center stage in tonight's All-Star Game. Though he won't start, he'll be a focal point as he's paired with Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Knuckleballs often give catchers fits because of their unpredictability. The pitch flutters and changes directions often, causing catchers unfamiliar with the pitch to struggle.

In Ruiz's case, he hasn't caught a knuckleballer since  he was at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2005. Yet he's confident he'll do fine in tonight's 83rd-annual Midsummer Classic in Kansas City.

"I don't think I'm going to have trouble catching the knuckleball. I'm going to play long toss with him and we'll see how it moves," he said with a smile at the media availability during Monday's All-Star Workout Day. 

National League manager Tony La Russa expects to bring Ruiz and Dickey in together, likely to begin the third or fourth inning.

"We've been talking," Dickey said."I'm sure [Ruiz] will do fine."

Ruiz has always been recognized as an excellent defensive catcher, but this season it is his offense that has earned him a slot on the NL All-Star roster. Hitting .350 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs, he leads all catchers in most offensive categories.

"It makes me feel like I have to keep working hard," he said. "It's my first time here, but I hope it's not the last one. That gives me a lot of motivation."

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