Ruiz relishes first Opening Day in bigs

Ruiz relishes first Opening Day in bigs

ARLINGTON -- Randy Ruiz waited a long time for this day to come. Over the past 11 years, he has had stints in 16 different Minor League towns, tours with 11 organizations and a couple brief tastes of the big leagues.

With the Blue Jays, Ruiz finally experienced his first Opening Day in the Majors.

"I'm excited," Ruiz said before Monday's opener against Texas at Rangers Ballpark. "My first Opening Day in the big leagues ever. I can't wait. I'm already nervous as it is. I know it's just another game, but the first one ever, my family is proud, I'm proud, and I know all my friends are proud.

"I'm happy to be here and finally have an opportunity to be here for an Opening Day."

Ruiz, 32, opens this season as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter off Toronto's bench. As things currently stand, playing time could be sporadic, considering the Jays have everyday options in first baseman Lyle Overbay and DH Adam Lind. When either needs a day off, manager Cito Gaston will turn to the right-handed-hitting Ruiz.

"It will be a challenge," Gaston said. "I still believe that he's one of the guys that, given the chance to play every day, he'd probably hit you 20 home runs or 25 and drive in about 90 or 95 runs. It's going to be a challenge to get him in there.

"If he can play a couple times a week -- that's not enough -- but that might be what happens. Wt this point in time, we just don't have any space for him right now; no more than him coming off the bench every once in awhile."

For now, Ruiz is simply thrilled to finally open a season in the big leagues.

"I know he's got to be excited and I'm happy for him," Gaston said. "He's a good kid. He's done a lot of things in the Minor Leagues -- he should've been here a long time ago. He just never got the chance."