Ruiz relishes time with Blue Jays

Ruiz relishes time with Blue Jays

NEW YORK -- Randy Ruiz hustled down the first-base line in the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, keeping his eyes focused on the baseball he'd just sent to deep right field seconds earlier. When the ball cleared the fence, the Blue Jays' designated hitter shot a fist into the air.

Ruiz caught himself and quickly pulled his arm down, settling into an easy trot around the bases. It was hard to blame Ruiz for wanting to celebrate, though. In his first game of the season with Toronto, and with a large group of family and friends in the stands, it was a blast that was a long-time coming for Ruiz.

"To me, I feel like there's no pressure," Ruiz said before Tuesday's 7-5 loss to the Yankees. "I'm just going to go out there and I'm just going to do my job and play 100 percent and let these guys evaluate me, see what I can do and show them what I can do for next year."

Ruiz -- a 31-year-old career Minor Leaguer -- was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday after the Blue Jays awarded the White Sox a waiver claim on right fielder Alex Rios a day earlier. Ruiz considered Rios a friend and was upset to see him go, but the newest Blue Jay was excited for his latest opportunity.

"I was looking forward to hanging out with him," Ruiz said of Rios. "But you know what? I felt like I did what I had to do down there and I earned it, and I'm just happy to be here now."

Not only was Ruiz thrilled to be with Toronto, but the fact that he was being called up to join the team at Yankee Stadium was an added bonus. Ruiz grew up in the Bronx and stopped by his grandmother's house on Brook Avenue -- just a short drive from the ballpark -- to spend time with his family before taking the big league stage.

"Not five minutes way," Ruiz said with a smile. "Right by the Willis Avenue Bridge."

In his first game with the Blue Jays, Ruiz was penciled in as the DH in the sixth spot of the lineup. Toronto manager Cito Gaston plans on giving Ruiz plenty of starts as the DH, which will keep Adam Lind in left field more often and leave Kevin Millar and Lyle Overbay to split duties at first base. Ruiz said he will be happy just to be in the lineup.

"If I'm hitting, and I'm swinging a hot bat, maybe I'll be in the lineup," Ruiz said. "If not, I'm going to do everything I can to help the team win -- if it's coming off the bench, DHing, first base, it doesn't matter. I'm just happy to be here."

Ruiz joined the Blue Jays after a stellar showing with Las Vegas this season. In 114 games, the right-handed-hitting Ruiz, who manned first base in 60 contests, hit at a .320 clip with 25 home runs and 106 RBIs. He also piled up 43 doubles and posted a .392 on-base percentage and a .584 slugging percentage.

Throughout his 11-year career, Ruiz has experienced plenty of success -- only it has mostly been limited to the Minors. He captured league batting crowns in 2000, '05 and '08, and he has established numerous records at various stops along the way. Prior to joining Toronto's stystem, though, Ruiz was cut 12 times between nine different organizations.

As frustrating as his career has been at times -- his only previous taste of the Majors came in a 22-game tour with the Twins last season -- Ruiz said he has always tried to maintain a positive outlook.

"In this game, when you have passion for the game, you love the game no matter what happens," Ruiz said. "You've still got to go out there and play ball, no matter if it's the big leagues or Minor Leagues. You do want to play in the big leagues, but when you're down there, you can't get frustrated and you can't worry about anything else. The only thing you can control is your game. That's what I've been trying to do."

Pitching matchup
TOR: LHP Ricky Romero (10-5, 3.66 ERA)
Romero is 7-2 with a 3.62 ERA over his past 11 starts for the Blue Jays.

NYY: RHP A.J. Burnett (10-5, 3.67 ERA)
Burnett is 6-2 with a 2.32 ERA over his past 10 outings for the Yankees.

Bird feed
The Blue Jays ranked second in the American League with a 4.16 ERA entering Tuesday. The Mariners led the league with a 4.00 ERA. Dating back to the beginning of the 2007 season, Toronto has led the Major Leagues with a 3.85 ERA. ... The Jays' 59 quality starts through Monday ranked first in the AL. ... Entering Tuesday, shortstop Marco Scutaro led all Major League leadoff hitters with 66 walks. His 29 walks to lead off an inning also ranked first in baseball. ... The Blue Jays have not won a season series against the Yankees since going 7-5 vs. New York in 2000.

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Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 12-5, 2.73) at Rays (James Shields, 7-8, 3.79), 7:38 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Blue Jays (Brian Tallet, 5-6, 4.85) at Rays (Scott Kazmir, 6-7, 6.50), 7:08 p.m. ET

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.