Charlie Manuel knows all about plantar fasciitis, the painful condition caused by inflammation of the connective tissue lining the bottom of the foot. In fact, Manuel says his plantar fasciitis gets so bad that it sometimes makes it painful to walk.
“It’s painful. If I go play 18 holes of golf, when I’m done, I can't hardly walk,” Manuel said prior to Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park. “It hurts.”
Imagine the pain for someone who spends a couple hours a night squatting on the balls of his feet. Worse, think about trying to play catcher in the big leagues with a torn plantar fascia tendon. Imagine how painful that is.
For the past three weeks (maybe longer) that’s what Carlos Ruiz was attempting to do. That is until the team medical staff told Ruiz he needed a trip to the disabled list in order for the tendon to heal properly. The team announced that Ruiz will be out for four-to-six weeks, though the injury very well could cost Ruiz the rest of the season.
“Chooch was a big part of our lineup,” Manuel said. “He just goes to show what you can do to improve and what a little hard work will do for you. He went from our eight-hole hitter to our cleanup hitter. He was having a tremendous year not only with the bat but also with catching.”
That’s actually an understatement. Ruiz was an All-Star for the first time this season and was batting .335 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs in 95 games this season. Ruiz also was flirting with becoming the first Phillies batting champion since Richie Ashburn led the league with a .338 average in 1958.
As a result, Ruiz will have a difficult time even qualifying for the batting title this season even if he returns in four weeks.
“I feel real sad because I was thinking this is going to be for a day here or there,” Ruiz said, adding that he first felt the pain in the sole of his foot shortly after the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. “There’s nothing we can do. I just have to get some rest and then when I come back I don’t feel anything and I can try to help my team.”
The best plan of action, however, might be inaction. With 56 games remaining in the season, the Phillies could decide to shut down Ruiz for the season, especially considering the pounding he takes as a catcher. This season he spent time on the sideline with an oblique strain. He also spent time on the disabled list in the past because of concussions, a back injury and a rib-cage injury.
This injury might be the roughest of the bunch.
“It was like I’d have good days. Like in Atlanta, last Sunday, it was feeling great and I was happy. There was less pain than before,” Ruiz said. “But after the double I hit in DC, it got me real good. I knew it had to be something, because there’s no way it could feel that good and then the next day feel real bad.”
Meanwhile, for the Phillies, the injury is just more of the same. Actually, at this point it seems like piling on. Ruiz will join Placido Polanco, Freddy Galvis, Jose Contreras, David Herndon, Michael Stutes and Raul Valdes on the disabled list.
Other Phillies who have spent time on the DL this season include: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Vance Worley, Laynce Nix and Michael Martinez.
“We’ve had a tough year,” Manuel said.
As for the catching duties for the rest of the season, Manuel has Erik Kratz and backup Brian Schneider on the roster. The right-handed hitting Kratz is in the lineup for Saturday’s game against lefty pitcher Joe Saunders. Schneider likely will get the call against righty Trevor Cahill on Sunday afternoon. Ruiz’s roster spot was taken by infielder Hector Luna, who has appeared in 26 games for the Phillies this season.