Posted at 9:34 PM on August 21, 2008
by David Zingler
Randy Ruiz will always remember spring training 2008 as the turning point of his career. After spending nearly a decade in the minors playing in the Reds, Orioles, Phillies (twice), Yankees, Royals, Pirates and Giants organizations, he finally attended his first big league camp. The 30-year-old seized the opportunity, hitting .407 with a pair of homers in 13 exhibition games.
Ruiz then rode the wave of momentum to Rochester where he posted a batting line of .313/.360/.521 with 15 homeruns and 63 RBI before he was called up to the big club on August 1. The soft-spoken DH took some time out to talk to me earlier this week:
DZ: You've been up here for a couple of weeks now, talk a little bit about what that's been like for you.
RUIZ: It feels great to be here, especially being around the guys that I saw in spring training. I am just happy to have an opportunity to show these guys what I can do.
DZ: Where were you when you found out about the call-up?
RUIZ: I was actually at a restaurant eating with (Francisco) Liriano.
DZ: You guys were together (and called up at the same time), who got the call first?
RUIZ: I got the call, he was next to me, so I just passed the phone over to him.
DZ: You opened a lot of eyes at spring training this year. What was your approach going in?
RUIZ: I was going to my first big league spring training, (I wanted) to go in there, have fun and just be relaxed and try to do the best I can.
DZ: You've been around awhile, played for 8 different organizations and didn't even get to Triple A until last year, was there anytime you thought, "I can't keep doing this?"
RUIZ: Everybody is always asking that question. I am not going to give up. It's tough, it was a long time - 10 years - and I just battled and now, thank God, I got the opportunity to be up here and help a team out (during) a playoff run.
DZ: You grew up in the Bronx, were you a Yankees fan?
RUIZ: I was a Met fan. The house where I live is maybe five minutes away from Yankee Stadium, but I was always a big Darryl Strawberry fan...growing up and seeing them win the World Series in '86...and my grandfather used to work for the City Athletic Club so I would get free tickets to go to Shea Stadium.
DZ: During that time, (the Mets) were better than the Yankees.
RUIZ: The Yankees were in the cellar and then we got into the '90s and they started winning games.
DZ: You've taken advantage of your opportunities (to play), is it the same approach (as in spring training), staying relaxed?
RUIZ: It's been like that the whole year, my whole career. It's just going out there, having fun and not putting that much pressure on myself. That's the main goal; when you don't try to do too much (you play better) and also feeling comfortable and being around these guys in spring training and seeing them now, I feel at home. It's not like I have to be in a place where I don't know anybody.
DZ: You're listed as a DH, you probably want to play out in the field at some point, when and where do you think that will be?
RUIZ: I don't know. I am just out there taking my ground balls everyday, staying sharp and when they put me in at first base...whenever they want me out there, I'll be ready.
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
August 20: Glen Perkins
August 12: Matt Guerrier
August 1: Nick Punto
July 31: Justin Morneau
July 30: Scott Baker
June 30: Brian Bass
June 27: Brian Buscher
June 18: Matt Macri
June 6: Craig Breslow
June 4: Michael Cuddyer
May 25: Nick Punto & Mike Redmond
May 20: Justin Morneau
May 1: Nick Blackburn
April 29: Brendan Harris
April 20: Jason Kubel
April 17: Denard Span
April 2: Matt Tolbert