Ruiz shows off arm with key pickoff

Ruiz shows off arm with key pickoff

MIAMI -- Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz barely flinched when his thunderbolt reached Ryan Howard, leaving the first baseman the simple task of lowering his mitt to tag the Marlins' Josh Willingham, who learned an important sixth-inning lesson Saturday night:

Beware of Ruiz's arm.

Retreating to the dugout with mask in hand, the corners of Ruiz's lips form a subtle, yet content smile. He had attempted to cut down runners in this fashion before, but this was his first success.

In a one-run game the Phillies eventually won, 3-2, every out mattered, especially with the dangerous Cody Ross at the plate.

"Those are the things that give us some energy," Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he noticed Willingham was taking his time returning to first after each pitch, so he signaled to Howard that a throw was coming. The first goal is to keep runners close at first, so an out is a bonus.

"It's letting runners know they shouldn't go too far away from the base," Ruiz said. "I was trying to help out my pitcher. The runner gave me a chance, and I took it. [When I threw the ball], my feet were real quick and I thought I got him."

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