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Ruiz finances search, rescue of friends in Panama

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz hired boats, helicopters and airplanes to search for his hometown friends whose fishing boat capsized near Panama on Saturday night. Walter Dubarran and Jose Mercedes Rodriguez were lost at sea for 35 to 40 hours before they were able to get on the phone to tell Ruiz they had been rescued.

"It was very emotional," Ruiz said through a translator. "For me, the guys thanking me for all I did. For helping those guys go out there and try to find them. We were all thanking the Lord. It was joyful. And they were thanking me again for what I did financially. Everybody was ecstatic."

Wil Nieves got the start at catcher for Sunday afternoon's game, but Ruiz was at the ballpark and said he was available to catch if he was needed.

"It was very difficult; I didn't get a whole lot of sleep," Ruiz said. "But at the same time, I knew that I had a job to do here with the ballclub. It was kind of hard to keep my concentration, but I just focused, left everything to God and I knew I had to be here for this club."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for
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