PHILADELPHIA (AP) — All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended for the first 25 games in Major League Baseball next season following a positive test for an amphetamine.
Ruiz, the 33-year-old Philadelphia Phillies catcher, had a career year in 2012, hitting .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 114 games. "I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant," Ruiz said in a statement issued by the MLB Players Association on Tuesday. "I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans."
Ruiz will be eligible to participate in spring training, including exhibition games. Erik Kratz will likely begin the 2013 season as Philadelphia's starting catcher while Ruiz serves his suspension. Kratz, a career minor-leaguer, filled in nicely when he finally got a chance after Ruiz went down with a foot injury. Kratz hit .248, but had nine doubles, nine homers and 26 RBIs in only 141 at-bats. Kratz also threw out 45 percent of base-stealers (15 of 33).
Still, losing Ruiz hurts a lineup that struggled mightily last year. Ruiz moved up from his usual No. 8 spot and took over for an injured Ryan Howard as the team's cleanup hitter for a chunk of the season. He batted fifth after Howard returned in July.
The Phillies, who finished 81-81 after winning five straight National League East titles, have several holes to fill. Only Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are certain regulars. Utley, though, didn't play until late May in 2011 and late June in 2012 because of chronic knee injuries.