TORONTO -- There was no guarantee what role Juan Pierre was going to have on the Phillies this season, let alone if he was even going to make the team.
Philadelphia inked Pierre to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training in the offseason. After breaking camp with the team, he has made the most of his opportunity.
The speedster entered Saturday batting .325, with a .363 on-base percentage over 57 games and 191 at-bats.
"I'm feeling decent," Pierre said. "I'm getting a chance to play. I don't think anybody expected me to have this many at-bats at this point. I'm just making the most of the opportunity. I'm just finding holes and hopefully I can continue it throughout the season."
The 34-year-old, who is a career .297 hitter, may have surprised some with his hot start, but not batting coach Greg Gross.
"Pierre is just a true professional," Gross said. "He prepares very well and is always ready. You have to remember, he had close to 190 hits last year. It's not like he has slacked off. The only thing that is different now is speed-wise -- he's not as a quick as he was. But he still runs the bases well and is pesky at the plate. He has started a number of rallies for us this year.
"This was a good pickup."
Pierre had 178 hits last season over 158 games. While his speed might not be what it used to be, he still has the second-most stolen bases on the team with 13.
Ruiz likely to sit for remainder of series
TORONTO -- Carlos Ruiz, who was forced to leave Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays with an oblique strain, was not in Saturday's lineup and is likely to sit out Sunday's series finale, too.
Ruiz underwent treatment following Friday's contest with head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and downplayed the severity of the injury.
"I had an oblique problem in Colorado last year -- or a couple years ago -- and I know how it feels," said Ruiz, who missed 21 days in 2009 with an oblique strain. "I think this is more like a cramp -- you know, when you pull a hamstring. This is more like a cramp. That's what I feel. They want to make sure that I'm OK. Today, when I woke up, maybe I was a little sore. But I feel good. I'm ready to go. We'll see how it goes."
Despite Ruiz calling the injury a cramp, the team is classifying it as a strain and will require Ruiz to be examined further in the coming days.
"We will evaluate him when we get back to Philadelphia," said assistant general manager Scott Proefrock.
The positive news is that Ruiz took batting practice on Saturday and is not certain to land on the disabled list.
Backup catcher Brian Schneider, who entered for Ruiz after he left Friday's game, got the start behind the dish on Saturday and was penciled into the eighth spot in the order.
As insurance, the Phillies recalled catcher Erik Kratz from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. To make to room for Kratz on the 25-man roster, Philadelphia optioned right-handed reliever B.J. Rosenberg to Lehigh Valley.
Phillies still feel like contenders
TORONTO -- The Phillies currently sit in a place they aren't all that used to: the basement of the National League East.
Entering Saturday's contest against the Blue Jays, Philadelphia was nine games behind the first-place Nationals. But the club is not ready to start hanging its heads.
Injuries to All-Stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay -- and now catcher Carlos Ruiz for an undetermined amount of time -- have decimated the perennial contenders, among the game's elite clubs in recent years.
John Mayberry Jr., who made his Major League debut with the Phillies in 2009, has seen the injuries happen before and knows this group is fully capable of pulling themselves out of this rut.
"We've had a series of mishaps with injuries, but you have to stay after it, be resilient," said Mayberry Jr., who got the start in left field on Saturday. "That's something this team has done in the past. It seems like somebody has always been there to step up -- and hopefully this year it will be the same way."
Veteran Juan Pierre voiced similar sentiments as Mayberry Jr., and said while the injuries are difficult to deal with, the team is not about to start feeling sorry for itself.
"[We] just have to weather the storm, it's everywhere," Pierre said. "Injuries happen. You just have to deal with [them]. The guys in here realize the injuries. But once the umpire says, 'Play ball,' you have a job to do. ... Hopefully, we will start doing it more consistently."
Philadelphia went 4-10 over its first 14 games in June and has been unable to string together a winning streak.
To make matters worse, Pierre says the NL East is the best he has ever seen it. Yet, when he looks around the clubhouse, he still sees a collection of players that knows how to win.
"We are still in striking distance, I believe," Pierre said. "Once we get hot, we will be right there. I think the division will beat up on each other so much that no team will pull away. I think it will be a race that comes down to the end.
"There are no slouches. We are in last place, and we don't feel like we are a last-place team."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.