Ruggiano likely to play even when Boni returns

Ruggiano likely to play even when Boni returns

Ruggiano likely to play even when Boni returns
MIAMI -- Justin Ruggiano has made the most of his opportunity with the Marlins.

Since the Marlins acquired the outfielder on May 26 in a Minor League trade with the Astros, Ruggiano has hit .388 with a .474 on-base percentage while playing both left and center field.

"Every time he's on the field, he does a lot of great things," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He does a lot of great things, and that's why I will keep playing him."

After going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs in Friday's win against the Phillies, Ruggiano was back in the lineup in center field Saturday -- his 10th start there since joining the Marlins.

Even when injured center fielder Emilio Bonifacio, who is recovering from left thumb surgery, returns after the All-Star break, Guillen doesn't expect Ruggiano's playing time to fall off too much.

"You find a place [for him]," Guillen said. "I've never seen any manager bench or send people down when they're playing good. ... But Ruggiano, the way he's playing right now, I will find him playing time. Believe me."

Guillen has tried a bunch of options to fill the void left by Bonifacio -- Bryan Petersen, Chris Coghlan, Scott Cousins -- but none have produced quite like Ruggiano. Guillen has used Ruggiano mostly against left-handed pitchers, though the right-handed-hitting outfielder has historically hit righties better.

Before the Marlins acquired Ruggiano, he hit .363 (29-for-80) with three homers, 11 doubles and 21 RBIs against right-handed pitchers at Triple-A Oklahoma City, compared to .243 (9-for-37) with two homers and eight RBIs against southpaws.

"It's something I've had to focus on quite a bit the last couple of years, because [facing left-handers] was my role if I was in the big leagues," Ruggiano said.

With the Marlins, Ruggiano is hitting .433 (13-for-30) against lefties and .316 (6-for-19) against righties. Given how well Ruggiano has been swinging the bat, Guillen said he isn't afraid to give him at-bats, regardless of who is on the mound.

"He gives you good at-bats no matter who is there," Guillen said. "I'm going to take advantage of the guy that swings the bat better."