For much of the past three seasons, many problems with the Phillies have rested with who isn’t on the field. Two seasons ago, it was Chase Utley missing more 59 games, something that ultimately didn’t faze a 102-win team. Last season, some blame for the the Phillies’ 81-81 campaign could be charged to Utley and Ryan Howard’s prolonged absences, as the offense floundered at points. The struggles have continued into 2013. The Phillies are 11-14. As of Saturday evening, they ranked 21st in the majors in runs scored. They average 3.72 runs a game, down from 4.22 last season, 4.4 in 2011 and 4.76 in 2010. And this season, Howard and Utley are completely healthy. There have been absences, though. When Phillies manager Charlie Manuel fills out his lineup card today, he’ll scribble Carlos Ruiz in the catcher’s spot, a first in 2013. Ruiz has served a 25-game suspension for a positive banned stimulant test in the offseason. “The last two years, he’s come into his own as a hitter,” Manuel said. “He’s gonna help us offensively. Gonna give us some different options in our lineup.” Manuel also is one step closer to having the full roster Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. imagined when making moves this offseason. The only missing piece at this point is Delmon Young, who still is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Young, who had 74 RBIs in 151 games with Detroit last season, is a right-handed power hitter the Phillies seem to desperately need to balance their lineup. Young is recovering from microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November. With Utley, Howard and Domonic Brown, the Phillies are heavy on left-handed hitters and have flailed trying to hit southpaw pitchers this season. Depending on the order Manuel uses, an opposing pitching staff can easily line up favorable pitching matchups. Young likely will return at some point this week, and the Phillies will have the lineup they envisioned heading into the season.
How much help will Ruiz and Young offer?
Delaware Online | Apr 28