PHILADELPHIA -- Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for using an amphetamine. The suspension begins at the beginning of the 2013 season, which means Ruiz is unable to play until April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field.
"I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant," Ruiz said in a statement. "I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans. ... I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013."
Losing Ruiz for most of the first month of the season will make that pursuit a little more difficult. Ruiz, who will forfeit about $770,000 of his $5 million salary, had a career season in 2012, hitting .325 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 68 RBIs, a .394 on-base percentage, a .540 slugging percentage and a .935 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
This is the second time Ruiz has tested positive for an amphetamine. The first time a player tests positive for a prohibited stimulant the results remain private and the player is not suspended.
"The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball's drug program," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. "We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program. We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013."
The suspension means Erik Kratz likely will open the season as the team's starting catcher.
Kratz hit .248 with nine doubles, nine home runs, 26 RBIs and an .809 OPS in 50 games last season. But he hit just .181 with two doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and a .515 OPS in 23 games from Aug. 24 through the end of the regular season.
Ruiz's absence means catching prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle could get closer looks in Spring Training as the Phillies will need a backup catcher. Brian Schneider is not expected back.
Ruiz will be able to participate in Spring Training workouts and Grapefruit League games in Florida in February and March. He also will be allowed to take batting practice before the gates open before regular-season games. He is eligible to begin a rehab assignment five days before the end of his suspension, which would be April 23.