Carlos Ruiz had a forgettable first half, missing 25 games with a suspension and 26 more with a hamstring injury. When he came back he struggled to drive the ball, but the second half has told a different story.
Chooch isn't done after all. At 34, he probably isn't a 130-game per year catcher. Only once in eight major-league seasons did he ever reach that mark. At 105-120 games, Ruiz can still be effective. He's shown that in the second half, hitting .351 with a .408 on-base percentage and 13 extra-base hits in his last 25 games.
"When the season's over we can talk and possibly I come back next year," Ruiz told Comcast SportsNet's Leslie Gudel after Wednesday's loss. "I feel great, I feel healthy, thats very important. ... We'll see what happens at the end of the season."
Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle won't be ready by 2014. They might not be ready by 2015, judging by Valle's continuous steps back and Joseph's lost season. Rupp remains an intriguing piece who could perhaps seize a backup job next year from Erik Kratz, who is 8-for-62 since June 6 and is hitting .205 on the season.
At 34, Ruiz doesn't have a ton of leverage in contract negotiations. He'd likely have to take a one-year deal with a club or vesting option. He made $5 million this year and will probably stay in that range after a strong second half.
Keep in mind Pierzynski found only a one-year, $7.5 million deal after his 27-home run season in 2012. Ruiz has hit much better of late, but it's still been a far cry from his own 2012, when he hit .325/.394/.540 in 114 games.
"This year was a little harder for me because of my suspension, and when I came back I injured my leg," Ruiz said. "Finally, I feel like I have my swing back."