Carlos Ruiz’s experience, and wisdom, were as much of a lure for the Mariners at this stage of his career as his catching ability.
PEORIA, Ariz. – Carlos Ruiz can often be seen sitting stoically at his locker, soaking it all in. And at age 38, Ruiz has one of those etched, character-infused faces that serve notice he’s seen it all.
Ruiz’s experience, and wisdom, were as much of a lure for the Mariners at this stage of his career as his catching ability, though they are convinced that he still has the goods to catch 60 or more games a year. With a young starter like Mike Zunino, prone to slumps and still learning the craft, they see Ruiz as part-mentor, part-insurance policy.
It’s a role he embraces. Ruiz had his decade as the spiritual leader of a special Phillies team, one that made it to two World Series and won one of them, with Ruiz hitting a combined .353. He cajoled the best out of one of the very best rotations of its time, at one point featuring an abundance of aces in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. He made an All-Star team and caught four no-hitters, including Halladay’s perfect game in 2010, which Ruiz marked by the birth of his second son exactly nine months later, to the day.
It took a while, Ruiz says, to reconcile the fact that he was no longer an everyday player. But after getting phased out in Philadelphia, traded last August to the Dodgers, and dealt again to the Mariners in November for reliever Vidal Nuno, he has come to terms with it.
“At first, it got to me a little bit, but now I understand my position,’’ he said. “I’m going to prepare to play, and on the days I don’t play, I’m going to cheer for my teammates and try to help from the bench. We have to do it together.”
Ruiz’s big-league time, and especially his World Series ring, gives him “instant credibility” in the clubhouse, Mariners manager Scott Servais said. Servais loves the fact that…