MIAMI -- Plenty of work off the field is helping keep Miami's Justin Ruggiano on the field on a daily basis.
For the first time in his Major League career, the 30-year-old outfielder is enduring the rigors of playing every day. Part of the process is playing through some aches and pains.
"You have to take care of your body," Ruggiano said. "You have to do everything pre- and postgame to make yourself available for the next day."
Like many players this time of year, Ruggiano is playing with some discomfort. He's dealt with some low back tightness, which has him doing a series of core exercises.
"The day you kind of get lazy or tired of doing it, it's the next day it's going to be a problem for you," he said. "If I don't take care of myself after a game, the next day is usually a rough one for me.
"For me, there's a lot of core exercises that I need to do -- stretching out, icing. That's something new for me. I've never had this in pro ball before."
Ruggiano has been a key acquisition for the Marlins this season. Acquired in a Minor League trade with the Astros in May, he has become a staple in the lineup, either in center or left field.
In 75 games, he's batting .326 with 13 home runs and 32 RBIs.
Ruggiano came up through the Rays' system, but he never received steady big league playing time. In fact, from 2007-11 with Tampa Bay, he appeared in 98 games and had 195 total at-bats.
Through 75 games with Miami, he's already had 227 at-bats. To make it through the season, he understands he will be playing at less than 100 percent.
"Any nagging injury right now, you're not going to heal up until the offseason," the outfielder said.
Lee tries to prove he's more than DH going forward
MIAMI -- Carlos Lee is trying to dispel the perception that his future may be as a designated hitter.
The 36-year-old has become comfortable playing first base for the Marlins. Since he was acquired by Miami from Houston on July 4, he has exclusively played the position.
In 54 games at first for the Marlins, Lee has a .966 fielding percentage. Counting his tenure with Houston, the veteran has played 119 games this year at first.
In previous years, he split time at first and the outfield. A free agent after the season, Lee hopes teams consider him capable of playing the field. Some in the game feel he may be best suited to become a DH.
"That's an idea I want to change," Lee said. "I want to prove to people that I can field. It's something I take a lot of pride in. I'm pretty happy with the way I've played on the field."
In Monday's 7-3 win over the Brewers, Lee made a nice diving play to rob Norichika Aoki.
"I honestly think I can play first base," Lee said. "I would say this year I've played better. It's more of I know where to be. I know where the ball needs to go. I'm more familiar with the position. Sometimes you know all the positions, but you didn't cover all the relays. Right now, I know where to be when the ball is hit."
Reliever Ramos hopes to stand tall during callup
MIAMI -- Performance stamped A.J. Ramos' ticket to the big leagues.
The Marlins on Tuesday selected the contract of the 5-foot-10, 210-pound right-hander, who was the closer at Double-A Jacksonville.
To make roster room for Ramos, Juan Carlos Oviedo was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
"I've liked him from Spring Training," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think he deserved to be here right now. He earned it. He's one of the best pitchers in the organization. Hopefully we can take a look at him here and see how he responds."
As the closer for the Suns, Ramos had 21 saves. In 68 2/3 innings, he struck out 89 while walking 21.
"Obviously, it's something you work for your whole life," said Ramos, who turns 26 on Sept. 20. "It's a great feeling. You try to take every moment in and enjoy it."
Ramos' velocity has been clocked at 94-96 mph, and he has topped out at 98. He mixes in a cutter, slider and changeup. He's trying to join the list of pitchers under 6-feet tall who have shown they belong in the big leagues.
"I've had to work my whole life," Ramos said. "This is going to be nothing new trying to prove myself and to show it doesn't matter what my height is. I'm prepared to work. I'm prepared to do all the things necessary.
"I try to stay as tall as possible on the mound -- arm angle. Get as much downward plain as possible. Also deception with my front arm -- try to hide the ball a little more -- and the velocity."
Ramos is a fan of pitchers like Atlanta's Kris Medlin, who at 5-foot-10 has been dominant.
"Oh definitely," Ramos said. "I'm always cheering for someone who is around my height. It's like me. I'm always cheering for those guys."
When Emilio Bonifacio went on the disabled list on Aug. 22, manager Ozzie Guillen said he expected the speedster to miss the remainder of the season.
Not much has changed on that front.
Bonifacio, who is resting a sprained right knee, is prepared to sit out the final month.
Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano have been splitting time in center field since Bonifacio has been out.
Steve Cishek continues to save games, but Guillen still hasn't given the right-hander the title of "closer." Cishek likely will get first dibs on save chances, but Guillen is leaving open the option of using Heath Bell or Mike Dunn to log the final outs.
Bell signed a three-year deal in the offseason. Unless he is traded, the veteran will come into Spring Training with a chance to regain the closer's role.
"I hope and wish Bell is our closer next year," Guillen said. "That makes us a better ballclub."
In 2013, the Marlins radio market will expand. Programming on the Marlins' flagship station, 790 The Ticket, will also air on 104.3 FM.
Marlins games won't air on the FM station for the rest of this season. But next year in the South Florida market, listeners will have the choice to pick up games on either the AM or FM channels.
With the stronger FM signal, 104.3 can be picked up close to Orlando.