Ruiz looks to help Mariners take next step

Catcher brings postseason experience, productive bat to backup role

Ruiz looks to help Mariners take next step

SEATTLE -- Carlos Ruiz has spent his entire 11-year Major League career in the National League, all but six weeks of it with the Phillies. But the 37-year-old catcher says he's eager for a fresh start with the Mariners after being traded to Seattle on Monday by the Dodgers for lefty Vidal Nuno.

The 2012 NL All-Star was dealt to the Dodgers on Aug. 25 and now finds himself moving to another West Coast club, where he'll work as the backup to Mike Zunino.

"My goal was always to finish with one organization. But in this business, you never know," Ruiz said Monday from his home in Chiriqui, Panama. "I did my best in Philly. We had some great memories over there. When I went to L.A., I was happy, too. That was my first time in a new uniform.

"But after I spent almost two months in Los Angeles, I felt, 'OK, it'll probably be a different team next year.' Now I can't wait to go there and do my best. That's a team that was real close to the postseason this year. I can't wait to see everybody there. I feel I can help that team, and I'm excited the way Seattle was looking for me."

Ruiz has seen his playing time decrease from 110 games in 2014 to 86 in '15 and 62 last year in his split duties with the Phillies and Dodgers. But he was productive at the plate in that role last season -- hitting .264/.365/.348 -- and knows the situation will likely be similar in Seattle.

"I know my role," he said. "That was explained to me. Everything is about being ready when they need me. I'll be there when I have chance to play, I'll be 100 percent ready. I know they have Zunino as the everyday catcher. I can't wait to work behind him. I can't wait to go to a different team and learn about the new guys."

Ruiz has played just five games in his career against the Mariners, with three of those at Safeco Field, but he's familiar with team's core group.

"I've been lucky to watch Felix [Hernandez] pitch," he said. "We can do a lot of good things together with him and [Robinson] Cano and [Nelson] Cruz and [Kyle] Seager. I enjoy watching them play."

One obvious adjustment will be learning the American League. But Ruiz has been around the game long enough to believe that will be a smooth transition as well.

"I feel like it's the same baseball," he said. "I know there are different teams I've never played a lot, but that's something I'll get used to in Spring Training. I'll go there in good shape and be ready for the season and try to learn everything I can about the bullpen and starting rotation. It's a different league, but we'll find a way to get in there and compete in our division and do our best to get to the postseason."

Ruiz's postseason experience is one of the reasons Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto pursued him so quickly this offseason. Ruiz played in two World Series with the Phillies, in 2008-09, and has 53 playoff games under his belt. If he can add to that total in Seattle, both he and the Mariners will be happy indeed.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.