Phillies Notebook: Make room for Ruf

John Mayberry Jr. watches his winning hit in the ninth inning of the first game of the doubleheader.
John Mayberry Jr. watches his winning hit in the ninth inning of the first game of the doubleheader. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 11, 2012

COLE HAMELS made a point to credit the injection of youth in the Phillies roster for the team's recent winning ways after his start on Sunday. The Phils will get another shot of life from the farm system Monday in the form of one of the hottest hitters in baseball, no matter the level.

Double A Reading slugger Darin Ruf will have his contract selected by the major league club on Monday.

The 26-year-old Ruf, a first baseman who started playing leftfield this summer, hit a home run in the R-Phils' 5-4 loss to Trenton in Game 4 of the Eastern League playoff series. With the loss, Reading was eliminated.

The home run was Ruf's 21st in the 35 games he's played since the beginning of August.

A 20th-round pick out of Creighton University in the 2009 draft, Ruf hit .317 with a 1.028 OPS, 38 home runs and 104 RBI in 139 games at Reading.

Ruf recently won the prestigious 2012 Paul Owens Award, given to the best player in the Phillies farm system. He was also named Eastern League MVP and Rookie of the Year.

Ruf's 20 home runs in August tied former Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa's professional baseball record of 20 home runs in a single month.

To make room for Ruf on the 40-man roster, the Phils transferred reliever Mike Stutes from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

Mayberry stays hot

John Mayberry Jr. was buried in an 0-2 count with two outs in the ninth inning when he got wood on a Matt Belisle pitch and sent a line drive to leftfield. He ran to first base but saw everyone in the infield - base runners and fielders - frozen as if time had suddenly stood still.

"It seemed like an eternity," Mayberry said.

Unlike Nate Schierholtz' sinking line drive in Cincinnati 5 days earlier, Mayberry's found the turf - Carlos Gonzalez' diving catch became a drop when he hit the ground. The game-winning hit in the Phillies' 3-2 walkoff win in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park was Mayberry's first hit of the day.

But it wasn't his first productive appearance at the plate. Mayberry walked a season-high three times and continued his second-half surge.

Since the Phillies traded away All-Star outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence and he gained an everyday role, Mayberry was hitting .311 with six home runs and 16 RBI in 35 games.

"He's been hitting the ball real good - he's hot," manager Charlie Manuel said. "His average has started to creep up and he's been getting hits off of righthanded pitching. He's been playing pretty good."

For the second straight season, Mayberry is attempting to play himself into a better position for the next year.

After hitting .301 with nine homers in 41 games in the final two months of the 2011 season, Mayberry was the Opening Day leftfielder in 2012. But he hit .206 with a .215 on-base percentage and just three extra-base hits, all doubles, in his first 30 games; he was hitting .232 with a .646 OPS at the All-Star break.

But since being penciled in as the regular centerfielder in place of Victorino, Mayberry's bat is showing life again and it has coincided with the Phils' best run of the season, too.

The Phils entered the back half of Sunday's doubleheader having won 11 of their last 15 games. During that stretch, Mayberry hit .404 with seven extra-base hits, 10 RBI, nine walks and seven strikeouts.

"Things have been going well as of late," Mayberry said. "The key of the game is to try to maintain that kind of consistency for as long as you can."

And that is the conundrum that is John Mayberry Jr. - his hottest hot streaks are tempered by cold spells. It's an inconsistency that likely will reduce him to a reserve, or at best, a platoon player, in 2013.

Frandsen injury

Kevin Frandsen was out of the starting lineup for both of Sunday's games and his status for Monday against Miami is unknown.

Frandsen, who hasn't been in the starting lineup since Tuesday, had an MRI over the weekend that revealed a stress fracture of the left tibula. The 30-year-old infielder is officially listed as day-to-day.

Frandsen said the injury first began bothering him 3 weeks ago in Milwaukee.

"I just didn't feel like I was going to help the team at all," he said. "That's the main thing for me. It's not about myself. It's about we're trying to get something going. And if I'm going to be a hindrance to the team, then that's not going to be the right thing. When I'm ready to go and they want me to play, then I'm ready to go."

Frandsen entered Sunday hitting .336 (43-for-128) with a .384 on-base percentage in 33 games since being recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley 6 weeks ago. Michael Martinez has started all four games at third base in Frandsen's absence.

With Reading's postseason over, the Phils could consider calling up third-base prospect Cody Asche. The 22-year-old Asche hit .346 with a 1.017 OPS, 10 home runs and 42 RBI in 52 games for the R-Phils after the All-Star break.

Valdes done

Raul Valdes' season is over. Valdes was placed on the 15-day disabled list and will undergo right knee surgery. The 34-year-old lefthander was 3-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 27 games. He struck out 35 batters and walked five in 31 innings.

Valdes split the 2012 season between the Phillies and Lehigh Valley, where he was 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 games, striking out 41 while walking just two in 30 innings.

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