Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers used a total of 38 players during the shortened 2020 regular season, with 17 of those coming on the position player side. A total of three players made their MLB debut, including Keibert Ruiz in a bit of a surprise.
The Dodgers had added Ruiz to their 40-man roster during the offseason, which meant a spot in big league camp for Spring Training. However, he was delayed with making his 2020 debut in Cactus League play as coaches worked on ironing out a swing mechanics change.
Then with the pandemic halting Spring Training and delaying the start of the 2020 season, Ruiz was among those included in the Dodgers’ player pool in order to be eligible to participate this year.
The Dodgers recalled the rookie catcher on Aug. 15 as the corresponding move to placing Will Smith on the 10-day injured list due to neck inflammation. Ruiz had himself been on the IL the month prior for an undisclosed reason.
That came during a time the 22-year-old had yet to report for Summer Camp, which Ruiz later revealed was due to a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test that he admitted was challenging in recovering from.
Ruiz only appeared in two games, but he memorably hit a home run in his first career at-bat. Overall he went a combined 2-for-8 in the two starts during August. Ruiz then was active as a third catcher for the Wild Card Series, though never entered a game.
Ruiz was shifted to the taxi squad for the remainder of the postseason.
Ruiz became the seventh Dodgers player to hit a home run in his first at-bat and the first to do so since Garey Ingram in 1994. “It was very exciting. First time being in the big leagues, and I was focused on getting a fastball and making good contact,” he said of the moment.
“They also said it’s downhill from here,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the team’s reaction in the dugout.
Given the ongoing pandemic and uncertainty it’s caused for Minor League Baseball, what next season entails for Ruiz is unclear. Under normal circumstances, he presumably would be on the Opening Day roster with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
However it shakes out, Ruiz figures to again see some time with the Dodgers next season.
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