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Ruggiano: 'I just try to make sure every pitch counts'

With his team struggling through a 4-15 June swoon, one might imagine it would be hard to get Ozzie Guillen to say something complimentary about one of his players at the moment. 

Justin Ruggiano
Justin Ruggiano is 12 for 36 with 10 extra-base hits since being acquired in a trade with the Astros on May 26.

But the Marlins manager does like what he's seeing from at least one guy -- Justin Ruggiano. The 30-year old veteran outfielder, who spent most of his career in the Rays farm system, has played well for the Marlins since being acquired in a minor league trade with Houston on May 26.


"I love this kid [from] the way he put on his uniform on down," Guillen said. "He does a lot of things. He has great speed, pretty good defensively. Got great at-bats, fights for his at-bats everytime we give him the opportunity. As long as you do that, you will play for me. I don't care if you're 0-for-4, as long as I see you're fighting for your at-bats and fighting for your situation, I think you'll have a great chance to play for me."

In the 18 games he's played for the Marlins, Ruggiano has started eight of them. He'll start his ninth game for the Marlins today against the Rays. So far, he's hitting .333 (10 for 36) with seven doubles, a triple, two homers, 6 RBI, 6 walks and 6 strikeouts in 36 at-bats. 

As far as fighting for his at-bats, Ruggiano displayed that well in the sixth inning of Friday's 12-5 loss to Toronto. He fouled off four pitches against Ricky Romero before drawing a walk. Omar Infante then followed Ruggiano up by blasting a two-run home run. 

Ruggiano said for fighting for at-bats -- by cutting down on his swing and just trying to make contact -- hasn't always been his thing.

"I used to give away a lot of at-bats," said Ruggiano, who in three big league stints in Tampa Bay hit just .226 with 58 strikeouts in 195 at-bats. 

"I think in the Rays system, strikeouts are kind of frowned upon. It was something [general manager Andrew Friedman] wanted me to focus on reducing [back in 2008]. For the longest time I couldn't figure out how. It was frustrating. I think I came up with a pretty good idea of what works for me and how to stay on the ball longer.

"I just try to make sure every pitch counts. I don't want to let a fastball go by, that's for sure. Over the last couple years I've also learned to stay in my zone a little bit better instead of chasing. It comes with experience. I've played winter ball the last couple years just to get those at-bats. The more at-bats, the more pitches you see, the easier it becomes to stay in your zone. As much minor league time as I've had, you better believe I'm going to make every at-bat here count. It's longer days down there that's for sure. I want to be able to sleep at night knowing I gave 100 percent effort, every pitch, every at-bat."

When it comes to looking at strikes go by them, the Marlins rank second-worst in the National League at 31 percent (only the Mets at 32 percent are worse). The league average is 28 percent.


I'm still not sure how a question about how losing 12-5 instead of 2-1 games got Guillen to go where he went last night, but it's obvious he's not a fan of sports psychologists.

"Psych? I don’t believe in psych,” Guillen said. “I just believe in good clubs. Great players don’t need psychiatric and psyche and shrinks. H——– players do. I never see Pete Rose talking to any psychiatry or Paul Molitor or all those guys. They were talking to nobody. All the h——– players they need a psych, a guy next to them to talk about it. The last five years, seven years, you see a lot of this in baseball.

“When players fail they need a doctor. When managers and coaches fail, they need another manager. They get rid of our a–, quick. Players are making excuse, talking to the shrink every day. How about the shrink when they are 4-for-4? They only got the shrink when they fail. I don’t believe in that. If some people do, good for them. I grew up in the good era of baseball when Budweiser and vodka take care of the psychiatric thing. That’s the best thing to do. You fail, get drunk and come back the next day and you see how good it feels.

“It’s a funny thing because most of the psycho guys and the doctors, they never played this game. They never come out of a slump. How is that going to help you? If that works for somebody, I need one right now. What I should do to get this ball club going? If that works, I will pay any kind of money to tell me.

“You play this game, it’s a long season. Whoever is tough mentally and physically, that’s the guy who’s going to finish in the top.” 


> Blue Jays (36-34): 1. Brett Lawrie 3B, 2. Colby Rasmus CF, 3. Jose Bautista RF, 4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B, 5. Kelly Johnson 2B, 6. Yunel Escobar SS, 7. Rajai Davis LF, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Brett Cecil LHP.

> Marlins (33-37): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Omar Infante 2B, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. Brett Hayes C, 9. Josh Johnson RHP.