MIAMI -- Justin Ruggiano officially joined the Marlins' organization on Saturday, when he was obtained in a Minor League trade with the Astros for Class A catcher Jobduan Morales.
But the 30-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielder actually was targeted by the Marlins in the offseason.
Miami approached Ruggiano, hoping to sign him to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
For personal reasons, he decided to join the Astros' organization to be closer to home.
A native of Austin, Texas, Ruggiano's wife gave birth to a girl at the end of Spring Training. While he opened the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Ruggiano was 3 1/2 hours from home.
"In the offseason, when I chose not to accept my option with Tampa, I had a couple of options," said Ruggiano, who was in the Rays' system from 2007-11. "One option that was closest to home for me, was with the Astros. We had a little girl who was born right at the very end of Spring Training. I figured, with the timing of it all, it would make sense to be in either Houston or Oklahoma City, where I ended up being."
The Marlins selected Ruggiano's contract from Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday, and he is back in the big leagues.
"It worked out good," he said. "I was 3 1/2 hours from home. It couldn't have worked out better.
"I enjoyed playing baseball in Florida. I was here last year, and I just love being here."
Ruggiano is a right-handed pinch-hit option and a candidate to play left field against left-handed starting pitching.
"I want to get back into the swing of things and see if I can help this team," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I can do and try to stay within myself."