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Dodgers rookie Ruiz talks COVID-19 recovery

@kengurnick
August 18, 2020

Dodgers rookie catcher Keibert Ruiz, who homered in his first MLB at-bat on Sunday, confirmed he was late to Summer Camp because he contracted COVID-19. Ruiz, 22, said he was sick with typical COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever for three days, headache, and lost taste and smell that led to

Dodgers rookie catcher Keibert Ruiz, who homered in his first MLB at-bat on Sunday, confirmed he was late to Summer Camp because he contracted COVID-19.

Ruiz, 22, said he was sick with typical COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever for three days, headache, and lost taste and smell that led to a loss of weight.

“[Thank] God I didn’t go to the hospital, just [stayed] in the hotel,” Ruiz said on Tuesday. “It was a tough time. I feel good now.”

Players who homered in first career at-bats

Ruiz, the No. 3-ranked prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, missed all of the club’s intrasquad games and had one at-bat in the July 20 exhibition game against the D-backs. Then he joined the alternate training site at USC for three weeks before earning his first callup to replace the injured Will Smith.

A native of Venezuela, Ruiz said the big league catchers he admires include Willson Contreras, Salvador Perez and Yadier Molina. He said he’s also been influenced by the receiving, pitch-calling and sequencing of teammate Austin Barnes.

“For me, the biggest stride he’s made is in the left-handed batter’s box,” manager Dave Roberts said of Ruiz, a switch-hitter. “Nothing is more evident than the swing he put on his first Major League hit. Fastball, pulls his hands in, elevates the baseball to the pull side and backspun it.

"As he was coming up, the bat-to-ball was always good, but there was a top spin and coming around the ball, putting the ball on the ground to the pull side. From the right side, [he] needs to continue to clean up his path to the baseball.

“On the catching, for a young player, [he's] certainly advanced. But receiving, the relationship with the pitchers -- needs to continue to improve.”

Other notes
• Alex Wood was scheduled to throw a three-inning simulated game on Tuesday, with a bullpen session later in the week and a four-inning simulated game next week before it’s determined when he will be activated from a shoulder injury.

• Joe Kelly has resumed playing catch on alternate days as he recovers from shoulder inflammation. When healthy, he still must serve his suspension for throwing at Houston Astros hitters Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. Kelly, who was dealt with harshly because he’s a repeat offender when it comes to throwing at batters, had his suspension reduced from eight games to five on appeal.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.