Randy Ruiz may have finally escaped the clutches of the minor leagues, but maybe he isn’t free after all.
After numerous Spring Training tryouts, Ruiz made a giant step forward by making his way onto the Blue Jays Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, that’s just half the battle.
Any chances of platooning the first base position were all but thrown out the window once Cito Gaston decided Lyle Overbay would be the starting first baseman for the 2010 season. And with Adam Lind all but locked up as the designated hitter, it doesn’t leave much room for Randy Ruiz.
Initially, I was hopeful that Randy Ruiz could possibly rack up 300+ at bats and make 2010 his coming out party. Now I’m starting to think that he might be lucky to get even half of those plate appearances.
With Cito’s decision to keep Ruiz on the bench during Monday’s game against the Rangers, it’s apparent he would prefer to keep Overbay’s defensive prowess in the game as opposed to the offensive upside from Ruiz. So if the game is close or tied in late innings, Ruiz will not probably not be pinch hitting for Lyle Overbay.
However, if the lineup gets down to the bottom of the order, Cito does have the option of pinch-hitting Ruiz for John Buck, Alex Gonzalez, or even Travis Snider. Each of them could be easily replaced the following inning by Jose Molina, John McDonald, or Mike McCoy.
Let’s keep in mind though that in the 33 games Randy Ruiz started last year, all but three were as the designated hitter. That makes it very unlikely Ruiz will see any fielding time this season. Aside from the odd day off for Lyle Overbay or Adam Lind, I’m afraid those are the only instances Ruiz will get a chance to hit.
The downside is by committing to Lyle Overbay as the starting first baseman and Adam Lind as the everyday designated hitter, the playing time for Randy Ruiz is going to decrease even more. It’s a shame because Ruiz had to fight tooth and nail just to make the 25-man roster, and now he has to continue to fight just to sneak in an at-bat here and there.
Yet for a guy who has spent 11 seasons in the minors, Randy Ruiz has overcome bigger obstacles before. In the meantime, Ruiz waits for his time to shine.