8/27/2013 7:56 P.M. ET
Ruiz starting to find his groove at the plate
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- It has been a good month for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, so good it could keep him in Philadelphia.
Ruiz entered Tuesday's game hitting .329 (26-for-79) with six doubles, four home runs, 11 RBIs and a .918 OPS since July 28. He was hitting just .253 (38-for-150) with four doubles, nine RBIs and a .581 OPS in his first 46 games.
Ruiz is a free agent following the season. A month ago it seemed unlikely he would be back, considering he turns 35 in January, has spent each of the past five seasons on the disabled list and his declining production following a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant. But this past month might have changed the front office's outlook.
"Chooch is playing well," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We'll see how things play out through the end of the year. Obviously, we have some familiarity with Chooch. He's starting to play better overall baseball. He's healthy now and he's had a chance to get his feet on the ground. He was playing catchup for a while."
Asked about Ruiz's age and injury history, Amaro said, "It's something we have to keep in mind. At the same time, we have to figure out what the rest of the landscape is with free-agent catching. There's not a lot of it out there, but there are some choices out there that could be intriguing. We have to weigh all those things together."
Phils sending seven players to Arizona Fall League
NEW YORK -- The Phillies have some players worth watching in the Arizona Fall League, particularly in the outfield.
The league announced its rosters Tuesday afternoon, and the seven players in the Phillies' organization making the trip are outfielders Kelly Dugan and Aaron Altherr; catcher Cameron Rupp; right-handers Kyle Simon, Mike Nesseth and Ken Giles; and left-hander Austin Wright.
Dugan has hit a combined .292 with 23 doubles, four triples, 20 home runs, 57 RBIs and an .870 OPS with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Altherr has hit .276 with 36 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, 68 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and an .801 OPS in Clearwater.
"He's playing very well this year," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said about Dugan. "He's taken a lot of steps forward. He's a pretty good hitter. He's played both corner-outfield positions very well this year. He's improved.
"Altherr is one of the best athletes we have in our organization. He can play all three outfield positions. He's a very, very good center fielder. A very, very good defender. He's a plus defender at all three outfield positions. He's got speed. He's got power. He's going to get stronger. He's got a lot of ability."
Rupp entered the season behind Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle on the organizational depth chart, but he has surpassed them. He has hit .259 with 16 doubles, 14 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .764 OPS with Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
He is the closest catching prospect to the big leagues.
"He's one of the guys who has advanced as well as any in our system," Amaro said. "He's advanced very quickly."
The four pitchers are relievers, with Nesseth having the best season. He is 1-5 with a 2.58 ERA in 47 appearances with Clearwater, Reading and Lehigh Valley. Giles throws as hard as 100 mph, but has struggled with Clearwater. Simon has a 4.82 ERA in Reading and Wright has a 6.10 ERA.
Sandberg a fan of hitting Rollins in No. 2 spot
NEW YORK -- It sounds like Ryne Sandberg would have Jimmy Rollins hit second every day if he could.
It seems to be ideal for the switch-hitting shortstop.
"In the two-spot, you often have a game plan with the game situation," Sandberg said Tuesday at Citi Field. "If he's batting left-handed and you've got a guy on first, he's got the hole to work with -- a possible hit-and-run candidate. If the guy steals, now he's got the pull swing to get him over. Then from the right side it's the same type of thing. I actually think that could work well with him, having more of an execution plan and a job to do. I think when he's given a job at home plate and he has a job that he needs, whether it's a big RBI, whether it's a sac fly, hit the hole, I think that's when he's at his best.
"It gives him a focus, it gives him a job to do. I know he likes to do the job. I know in the leadoff spot if there's nobody on I could see if that doesn't fit you too well, it becomes just a swing mode without really a game plan."
• Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown remains out of the starting lineup because of a sore right Achilles. He has not started since Friday, although he has pinch-hit three times. Brown tested the Achilles before Tuesday's game against the Mets at Citi Field, but the inflammation remains.
"Still the same," Sandberg said. "Day to day. Still feels it, so no sense in pushing it or anything. Still seems to be getting better each day, but it's not like the quick turnaround."
• Third baseman Cody Asche got the night off against Mets left-hander Jon Niese. The Phillies have been working in Asche slowly against left-handed pitching, similarly to how former manager Larry Bowa broke in Chase Utley and how former manager Charlie Manuel broke in Ryan Howard.
"There's something to that," Sandberg said. "There's different types of left-handed pitching, also. I think the last time he sat was against [Dodgers ace Clayton] Kershaw, so that's tough duty for a young guy. But who knows? If he wouldn't have got two hits off him, I wouldn't have been shocked. But yeah, just same type of a thing. Picking spots here or there. Keep him on the path that he's going now, keep him on the streak that he's on."
• The U.S. Open is happening this week in Queens, and Phillies infielders Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and John McDonald stopped by Tuesday. They had the good fortune to meet tennis star Ana Ivanovic.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.