LOS ANGELES -- One could say parallel careers intersected on Thursday, when the Dodgers acquired Carlos Ruiz for A.J. Ellis and a Minor Leaguer.
The two catchers shared humble origins as Ruiz first signed with the Phillies for $8,000 in 1998, while Ellis was drafted in the 18th round of the 2003 Draft. Both fought their ways to the Majors and instilled themselves as fan favorites. And, until Thursday, both had known only one team.
The Dodgers and their fans weren't the only ones to say a difficult goodbye in the trade.
Ruiz arrived at Dodger Stadium on Friday, in time for the team photo, and was immediately inserted into the lineup, batting sixth against Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery. Ruiz's debut at the plate was a success, reaching base three times. But his trouble catching closer Kenley Jansen's cutter helped Jason Heyward tie the game following a leadoff double in the ninth inning, ultimately resulting in a 6-4 loss to the Cubs.
"I'm going to do my best to learn real quick and then go from there," Ruiz said. "His fastball's real good and it's also moving late. It's different when you face him and when you're catching."
While a major justification of the Ruiz trade was his production against left-handers, manager Dave Roberts was hesitant to say Ruiz's playing time would be determined by a platoon.
"Yasmani [Grandal] is our starting catcher. His statistics are just where they need to be against left-handed pitching. He's fine," Roberts said. "If there are certain days where it makes sense for a backup catcher to catch that day in Carlos, then I'll catch him. If it aligns with a left-handed starter, then even better."
Oddly enough, the Dodgers now have more members of the '08 world champion Phillies (Ruiz, Chase Utley, Joe Blanton) than the '08 Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier) on their staff. In addition to those familiar faces, Ruiz carries an immaculate reputation as a teammate and manager of pitching staffs as he integrates himself into the clubhouse.
"Carlos Ruiz comes highly recommended from a lot of different guys," Kershaw said. "Cares, loves the game, Chase loves him to death, so that tells you all the need to know right there."
While Ruiz left plenty of friends in Philadelphia, he is still excited to join the Dodgers and compete in the postseason.
"I'm ready to play in October. That's my goal, pretty excited," Ruiz said. "They showed me a lot of respect so they tried to get me on a team that had a chance to go to the postseason. It was really good to hear."
In the corresponding move to add Ruiz on Friday, the Dodgers optioned catcher Shawn Zarraga to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Zarraga's contract was selected Thursday when the Dodgers needed a backup catcher after trading Ellis.
• Trayce Thompson (back fractures) still hasn't swung a bat and is doing mostly core work, but could ramp up after seeing a doctor early next week.
• Ethier (fractured right tibia) received a day off after going 2-for-4 in his first rehab game with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. He is expected back in the Rancho lineup Saturday, playing as the designated hitter.
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.