Career minor leaguer Ruiz hopes to stick with Jays

BY foxsports • February 27, 2010

Randy Ruiz had bounced around the minors for 10 years before getting his first taste of the majors. This year he hopes to stick with one club: the Toronto Blue Jays.

He knows from experience, though, not to get his hopes up too high.

``I put no pressure on myself,'' Ruiz said Saturday. ``I would love to be up there with the club but right now I'm just going to have fun and try to do what I can do.''

Beginning in 1999, Ruiz was signed and released by the Reds, Orioles, Cardinals, Phillies (twice), Royals, Yankees and Giants before latching on with the Minnesota Twins after the 2007 season.

In 2008 he got his first taste of the big leagues, if only for 22 games.

In 11 minor league seasons he batted .304, averaged 73 RBIs and was a four-time batting champion, two-time All-Star, International League Rookie of the Year at age 30 in 2008 and Pacific Coast Player of the Year last season.

``Everywhere I've been I've done well but it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,'' Ruiz said. ``I was behind (Cincinnati's) Ben Broussard at one point when he was a big prospect. I was behind (Philadelphia's) Ryan Howard. When I was with the Yankees they had Jason Giambi.

``These guys are superstars making multimillion dollars,'' he added. ``All you can do is sit and wait and not worry about what happens up there.''

By then, Ruiz finally learned a lesson that might have served him well: stay put.

``I was a free agent every year, and when I didn't get promoted to the next level I felt like I had to try somewhere else,'' he said. ``But I learned that it's always good to stay in one organization because they know who you are, they know what kind of person you are, know what kind of player.''

He spent most of 2008 at Triple-A Rochester before the Twins summoned him on Aug. 1, and released him on Dec. 5. Twelve days later Toronto signed him. He hit .320 with 43 doubles, 15 home runs and 106 at Triple-A Las Vegas before being called up by the Blue Jays, with whom he hit .313 with 10 homers in 33 games.

``I think he deserves a chance,'' Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. ``The kid's hit everywhere he's went. You put him in there day in and day out, DH him day and day out, I believe he'd hit you over 20 home runs. I think he'd drive you in close to 80-90 runs and hit .280 or so in the big leagues.''

As before, Ruiz may have to wait his turn. For starters, he's in competition with Brian Dopirak for a roster spot. And ahead of them on the roster are first baseman Lyle Overbay, in the final year of his contract, and DH Adam Lind.

``I like playing the field. I feel like I'm into the game that way,'' Ruiz said of his preference for first base. ``But if it's DH or (as a pinch-hitter) off the bench, that's just as good. Right now I'm just happy to have a uniform on.''

NOTES: Rain washed out Saturday's outdoor workouts. The Blue Jays spent the day in the batting cages and in meetings. ... The Phillies and Blue Jays will play two B games this spring, Friday at Clearwater and March 10 in Dunedin.

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