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Ruiz facing uncertain future with Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Ruiz's spot in Phillies history is secure.

He caught the final pitch in the 2008 World Series, called the final pitch of Roy Halladay's perfect game in 2010, made the throw to first base for the final out in Halladay's postseason no-hitter that same season and caught many more memorable games throughout his eight-year Phillies career.

But as Chase Utley prepared to sign a two-year contract extension as early as Thursday, Ruiz's future with the Phillies remains a mystery. He will be a free agent following the season, and it is far from certain he returns. He turns 35 in January, he has spent each of the past five seasons on the disabled list and he is in the midst of his worst offensive season since 2008, which comes on the heels of a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant.

But the Phillies don't have anyone in their system ready to replace him on an everyday basis as top prospect Tommy Joseph has been sent home after a couple setbacks following a concussion earlier this year. If the Phillies decide to part ways with Ruiz, they will have to find somebody on the free-agent market or through a trade.

"That's not in my hands right now," Ruiz said before Thursday's game against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. "I just want to finish the season strong. That's not in my head right now. I can only control what I do on the field."

Ruiz has hit two doubles and two home runs since July 29 to raise his OPS from .581 to .638, which is still the lowest mark since he posted a .620 OPS in 2008. He started the season on the suspended list, came back for a few weeks, then landed on the disabled list for a few more weeks because of a strained right hamstring.

"I know I haven't put up the numbers I had last year, but right now we've still got like 50 games to go," Ruiz said. "I feel like the last couple days I feel better at the plate. I'm swinging a little better. That's good. It hasn't been easy, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Clearly, Ruiz would like to remain in Philadelphia.

"I'm real happy here," he said. "It's my home. I feel like all of my family is here. But at the same time, it's out of my hands. We will see once the season is over."

Ruiz said he has told his agent not to tell him if there has been any talk about an extension, although it is believed that has not happened yet. He said he doesn't want the distraction of contract negotiations on his mind.

"I don't want to think too much about it," he said. "I want to play. I still feel great."

Maybe he can take those feelings, finish strong and turn it into a contract extension with the Phillies.

"That's a big hole for us next year," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Whether it's Chooch coming back to us and being our number one catcher or whether it's somebody else, I don't know if we have that internal candidate right now because Tommy didn't really have a chance to develop. Frankly, I don't know if Tommy would have been ready even if he had a full year. He's still young. It's an issue and it's something we're going to have to address, whether it be a trade or free agency or Chooch -- that remains to be seen."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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