Ruggiano enjoying short stint in Majors
Set to return to Triple-A on Sunday, outfielder tours Fenway
BOSTON -- Justin Ruggiano is experiencing the tough part of Major League Baseball.
The 26-year-old Rays outfielder was recalled Friday from Triple-A Durham when right-hander Gary Glover went on the disabled list. Ruggiano is scheduled to return to Durham on Sunday to make room for left-hander Scott Kazmir on the Rays' 25-man active roster.
"It's tough," Ruggiano said. "I feel confident in my ability to play here, but there's nothing I can do [about the situation]. It's not up to me. It's up to the Rays to decide who they want in the outfield. And I respect their decision, obviously."
Ruggiano was up with the team from April 9-24 and hit .300 (3-for-10) in limited duty. At Durham, he was hitting .364 (12-for-33) with a home run, four doubles, nine RBIs and three stolen bases.
Ruggiano made his debut for the Rays at the end of the 2007 season, hitting .214 in seven games. Heading into this season, Ruggiano said he knew 2008 could be an "up and down year" for him, so he's worked to maintain a positive approach.
"I go out and I've just kind of taken the mind-set this year, it doesn't matter where it's at, just to focus on every pitch and try to take the game one pitch at a time, no matter where I'm at," Ruggiano said. "And I think it's helped me out a lot. Because when I do get sent down, I'm not going to act like I'm disappointed or anything.
"I'm just going to go out there and play. And that's all you can do every day is try and play the game the way it's supposed to be played. ... I control the things I can control. And that's how I play every day, which is my approach every day and I just try to keep it constant, the same."
Ruggiano was named Durham's Player of the Year in 2007, batting .309 with 20 home runs, 73 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.
"I don't mind being a bench guy here in the Major Leagues," Ruggiano said. "But a bench guy to me is someone who plays once or twice a week. And if it's not going to be something like that, then I think it is better for me to keep on developing [at the Minor League level]. I do think I have what it takes to be an everyday player in the big leagues. Obviously the more I get out there on an everyday basis, the more I can show what I'm about."
Despite being scheduled to be in the Major Leagues only for the weekend series, Ruggiano took time to smell the roses by taking a tour of Fenway Park on Saturday. Friday night was the first time he saw Fenway in person.
"It's historical to see," Ruggiano said. "When I got in [Friday] night around 7:15, I had to walk through the stadium to get to the clubhouse. Full crowd, packed house, everybody is at the vendors, getting their hot dogs and beers. Good smells. It's cool. It's baseball -- old school baseball."
Ruggiano got to play Friday night and went 0-for-2 against the Red Sox, but drew the praises of Rays manager Joe Maddon.
"He did nicely, he had good at bats [Friday night]," Maddon said. "That speaks nicely for him in the future. [His weekend situation is] just one of those things that happens to us in this game. But I like the way he's handled it."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.