Ruiz's game-calling earns him playing time

Ruiz's game-calling earns him playing time

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cameron Rupp is quietly establishing himself as a piece of the Phillies' future.

He entered Saturday night's game against the Giants at AT&T Park hitting .269 with 14 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 21 RBIs and a .773 OPS in 46 games. He was tied for fifth among big league catchers in OPS and is tied for fourth in slugging percentage (.468). And that was before he hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the Phillies' 3-2 victory over the Giants.

He figures to be behind the plate in some capacity in 2017, but Carlos Ruiz, who is in the final year of his contract, is not going away silently. In fact, his game-calling prowess is pushing him back into the lineup. He will catch struggling right-hander Aaron Nola for the first time in his career in Sunday's series finale.

Ruiz has caught right-hander Jerad Eickhoff five times this season, including four times this month. Eickhoff earned the win in three of those starts, three of the Phillies' only five wins in June. Mackanin indicated Ruiz could catch Eickhoff more in the future.

It isn't exactly Sam Bradford vs. Carson Wentz, but could there be a catching controversy brewing behind home plate?

"Possibly," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "That's the hard part about this job. You have to give up something to get something, and right now we need offense. At least right now Cam offers more offense. However, is it more important to guide the young pitcher and bring him along with some veteran experience? Winning games is important, too, for the health of the players, the coaches and the manager, too."

Asked if the Phillies' coaches can help a catcher call a game from the dugout, Mackanin said, "[The catchers)] have meetings, they have charts. Sometimes it surprises you. You go over it in a meeting and there's input back and forth, and you get in a game and it's, 'What are you doing? Pitch according to the book we have here.' Sometimes guys don't do that."

So Ruiz is calling a better game?

"Let's put it this way, with the years of experience he's had, I'd like to think, yeah, I would say that," Mackanin said. "Rupp's in a learning process. I'm not going to say he calls a better game than Chooch because Chooch has had a lot of success with a lot of different types of pitchers."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.