Carlos Ruiz’s suspension means much more than missing 25 games. The Philadelphia Phillies are losing their field general and leader for the entire month of April.
Philly.com reported that Carlos Ruiz tested positive for the drug Adderall, a substance banned by Major League Baseball. Jim Salisbury also tweeted this must have been Chooch’s second failing since the first failing does not warrant a suspension.
What does this mean for Phillies?
Unfortunately, this is a blow for the organization.
April games are just as important as September and October. It’s not easy to climb back from the basement of a competitive NL East.
April is also an important month for a pitchers and catchers to find their chemistry.
Even though we are talking about major league players, it still takes time for a pitcher and catcher to develop into regular-season form. Yes, the Phillies have spring training, but the beginning of the regular season is where longer innings occur and every pitch counts.
Chooch missing this first month stalls this process and can potentially weigh heavily on the pitchers' psyches. Pitchers are known to be fragile creatures and become comfortable with their battery mate. Anyone remember the Adam Eaton-Chris Coste relationship?
Ruiz’s suspension also means missing a much-needed right-handed batter in the lineup. Simply put, he fit nicely in the fifth spot. Ruiz safely hit behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and had many opportunities to produce runs.The fifth spot could be a "sore spot" come April.
Erik Kratz will likely fill in during Ruiz’s absence, which he is no stranger to doing, but he cannot replace Chooch—even if it's only for one month.
Last, this is a black eye for the organization. Ruiz appeared to be a clean, intelligent player, but this will taint his career and the Phils organization for some time.
The Phillies are not in panic mode, nor should the club be, but Ruben Amaro Jr. and the organization must now understand the importance and disappointment that comes along with the Ruiz suspension.
In an offseason where the Phillies look to regain elite status, this is a step in the wrong direction.