Carlos Ruiz trotted out of the Phillies' dugout and made his way to right field where his teammates were going through their daily stretching routine before batting practice.
"MVP!" they chanted in unison.
Definitely an All-Star. Entering last night's game against the Rockies, Ruiz -- affectionately known as "Chooch" -- was hitting .354 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs. That was good enough to rank fourth in the National League in hitting, as well as OBP (.422) and fifth in slugging percentage (.579).
Ruiz has already tied his career high with nine homers, and he had seven RBIs in one memorable game May 2 at Atlanta. The numbers are impressive, but they don't tell the whole story.
"Carlos is the glue to our whole club," said Jim Thome. "The pitchers respect him, our whole club respects him, and we believe he's worthy of an All-Star berth. He's been just amazing all season."
Still, Ruiz was in third place in the latest votes tabulated to become the NL's starting All-Star catcher. Ruiz sat 688,987 votes behind San Francisco's Buster Posey, who leads the way with 2,445,005. St. Louis' Yadier Molina is second.
The Phillies have been pushing for Ruiz with a "Vote Chooch" campaign. His teammates consistently don shirts.
"It's a great feeling," Ruiz said. "I would love to play in the All-Star Game. I don't know if it will happen. I am hoping. But my whole focus is on the Phillies day-to-day and getting us going. If the All-Star voting works out, I'll be very happy. My main concern is helping us win as many games as possible."