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Notes: Ruiz glad to rejoin Phillies

Notes: Ruiz glad to rejoin Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Manager Charlie Manuel received an unexpected early morning phone call on Thursday morning from a scout. It focused on Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies Minor League catcher who joined the team for the third time.

"He was asking me about him," Manuel said. "I didn't tell him anything. I said you've seen him, what did you see?"

While not revealing the scout's name or the organization, it's understandable why Manuel would receive such a call. Ruiz, 26, has developed as a prospect, and some feel he may be close to seizing an everyday opportunity.

Ruiz performed well at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, when he wasn't struggling at the big-league level. The right-handed-hitting backstop batted .307 with 16 homers and 69 RBIs in 100 games at Triple-A, but hit .205 in 44 at-bats with Philadelphia this season.

By arriving before Sept. 1, Ruiz can be included on the postseason roster, if the Phillies got there and wanted to carry a third catcher.

"I'm very proud of [being able to come back]," Ruiz said. "Second, to be part of a team that has a chance to go to the playoffs, and to be able to help out, I'm very happy for that."

Other than injuring his left thumb getting hit with a foul tip, Ruiz has stayed healthy, something he wasn't been able to do in previous years. Coming off a successful Triple-A campaign, Ruiz may have played his way into the Phillies' plans for 2007.

With veteran Mike Lieberthal likely leaving after the season, the Phillies are pondering a catching duo of Chris Coste and Ruiz. Coste's offense and catching ability may have earned him serious consideration as a starter for next season, and Ruiz could either share the position or serve as a backup.

If catching is secure, the Phils will be able to concentrate in other areas this winter.

"That's something we'll have to discuss," Manuel said.

Get on the floor: Lieberthal didn't spend Wednesday night tossing and turning. Instead, he spent it on his back at the Grand Hyatt hotel.

On the floor.

The veteran catcher is playing through back pain that forced him out of the lineup on Monday. Though it's uncomfortable, he said it's manageable.

"I've done that before," he said. "I had it when I was in Atlanta [earlier this month]. It's not quite as bad, but very similar. I not really sure what it is. It's like a spasm. It's not quite a pull, but it's muscle-related."

Lieberthal knows this -- he feels better when he's standing up, something he did the entire game on Wednesday.

"I was standing there cheering," he said. "If I'm standing, I'm OK. It's fine playing, too. Hitting I don't really feel it. Standing I don't feel it. Squatting [behind the plate], it feels like a toothache."

Gordon throws: Closer Tom Gordon worked two scoreless innings in a rehab appearance on Thursday for Class A Clearwater. He struck out three and walked one, while allowing no hits.

The veteran right-hander is expected to rejoin the Phillies on Friday, and should be available to pitch on Saturday.

Mathieson, Brito called up: After Thursday's game, the Phillies called up righty Scott Mathieson and lefty Eude Brito from Triple-A. Mathieson will start one of the games in Saturday's doubleheader, while Brito will likely work in long relief.

Ouch: David Dellucci was limping noticably after falling into the left-field wall tracking Brian Schneider's ninth-inning double. Dellucci had a cut on his right knee after the game.

"I got gashed pretty good," he said. "I don't know what I hit, but I sliced it pretty good. My left knee is sprained. My right knee is cut open."

He made a joke referring to the spectacular catch by Shane Victorino earlier in the game, robbing Daryle Ward with a leaping grab at the wall.

"Shane hit the part of the wall that gives," Dellucci said. "I hit the part of the wall that doesn't."

Equipment collection: The Phillies have teamed with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund to host an equipment drive at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 4. The Phils will collect new and used gloves, catcher's gear, cleats and batting helmets (youth sizes) at the first-base and third-base entry plazas.

All fans who donate baseball or softball equipment will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of three autographed items, including bats signed by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. The winners will be drawn during the game at 4 p.m. that day at the first-base entry plaza and also will be announced on the sideboards that evening.

The collected equipment will be donated to "Pitch In For Baseball," a non-profit organization that delivers equipment to underserved communities around the world.

Coming up: Assuming Ernesto cooperates, Jon Lieber will open the weekend series on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET against Atlanta. Lieber's season took a turn for the better in August, as the veteran went 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five outings.

Lieber enters the season's final month with a 9-1 record over the past two Septembers, with a 2.43 ERA. That said, he's coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs on 10 hits in six innings, and labored a bit against the Mets.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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