Nearing the end of an era. (Chris Szagola / AP

Nearing the end of an era. (Chris Szagola / AP

Phillies: Ruiz, Howard making cases to remain a Phillie

When the team was in Training Camp back in February, no one believed that Ryan Howard or Carlos Ruiz would still be wearing the red-and-white pinstripes after the MLB Non-Wavier trade deadline passed on August 1st.

Now here we are on August 8; the duo is still in South Philadelphia and their multi-year contracts are in the final year, while both have club options for 2017.

And although the chance of both or even one staying beyond the year is questionable, the two are certainly making a case to stay.

Sunday’s 6-5 win over San Diego at Petco Park was no different, with Howard singling to center; that started a seven-hit, four-run fourth inning for the Phillies while Ruiz went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the fourth.

Since June 23, Howard has a .311 average (19-for-61) while Ruiz is .362 (17-for-48). Howard has four doubles, six home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.026 OPS in 23 games, while Ruiz has two doubles, five RBI’s and an OPS of .878 in 14 games.

“We both want to be able to go somewhere and play beyond this year,” Howard said to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “We’ve got to try to make the most of what we can while we’re still here. … I just keep doing my work. I’ve been doing this thing for 12 years, playing for 12 years. You figure out how to play the game. That’s the game of baseball. Things come in waves. You have good waves and you have bad waves.

“For whatever reason everybody else thinks I’m done playing. I know I can still play. I know I’m still capable of it. This year one bad month and you’re done. For me it’s about not having the opportunity to rectify the one bad month.”

In May, Howard hit .101 followed by .140 in June. July was a sparkle for Howard, hitting .250 while having a .793 OPS.

“Everybody looks at May and says I can’t play anymore,” Howard said. “I know I can play and I still want to play in the future. That’s where my mindset is. Now it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities I get and put it in play for next year.”

Ruiz hit .159 in May with just seven hits in 44 at bats, while boosting his average to .207 in June, before nearly doubling it to .407 in July with 17 hits in 56 at-bats during the two months.

“I’m trying to keep myself ready for when I get the opportunity to play,” said Ruiz. “I’m happy with the way I feel right now. I hope it continues that way and I finish the season strong. My body feels great. I feel strong. I don’t have any soreness. I would like to play as many years as I can. We’ll see what happens.”

Ruiz, 37, is a 2012 National League All-Star and the team’s Wilson Team Defensive Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. He also was the NL Player of the Week for April 28 in 2014.

Howard, on the other hand, is also 37 and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005 followed by the NL MVP, Home Run Derby Title, NL Hank Aaron Award, and NL Silver Slugger in 2006. He is a three-time all-star, having gone to the game in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Howard was the NLCS MVP in 2009. He has been the NL Player of the Month four times and the NL Player of the Week six times. He has earned the Phillies MVP award three times (2006, 2009, and 2010) while also earning the MLB Players Choice NL Outstanding Player and MLB Players Choice Player of the Year awards in 2006.

Howard led the league in home runs in both 2006 (58) and 2008 (48) while finishing second in 2007 (47) and third in 2009 (45). Since then Howard as dropped steadily, finishing 20th last season. He led the league in RBI’s in 2006 (149), 2008 (146) and 2009 (141).

Personal Note: As a life-long fan and always feeling connected to the players I grew up with, I would hate to see either go. If I had to choose one to stay, it would have to be Chooch due to leadership he has with the pitchers. Say what you may, but no one has a better relationship with the pitchers than Chooch. While Howard has done tremendous things in the community, the lack of production over the past few years has been his demise.