"It's pretty cool," said the 26-year-old Ruf. "I've been waiting for the opportunity, so now I've got to take advantage of it."
Ruf didn't waste any time.
After working the count full against lefthander Ross Detwiler in the second inning, Ruf slugged a second-inning solo home run in his first at-bat of the night to help lead the Phillies to a 6-3 win. Ruf, who also singled in the sixth, became the first Phillie to hit a home run for his first major league hit since John Mayberry Jr. did so in 2009 at Yankee Stadium.
He might get the opportunity to do more damage in the next week, too.
In the first of the final nine games of the season, the Phillies aren't exactly pulling the plug on the 2012 season. Although they entered Tuesday 5 1/2 games back of a playoff spot, they were technically mathematically alive.
They also are in the position to play spoiler, since six of their final nine games come against a Nationals team that's trying to fend off Atlanta to wrap up its first division title since the franchise was called the Montreal Expos in 1981.
But that doesn't mean Manuel will hesitate to plug Ruf in the lineup again Wednesday night, something he strongly hinted as the Phils face a lefthander for the second straight game.
"I feel obligated to put our best lineup," Manuel said of giving the Nationals his team's best shot. "But at the same time I feel we can definitely play people like Ruf or somebody like that because I want to see him play and I don't think it's hurting our chances of winning."
Ruf's start on Tuesday marked the first time he was in a starting lineup of any kind since Sept. 9, when Reading's season ended in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs. Ruf hit .317 with an EL-best 38 home runs and 104 RBI in 139 games at Reading; he hit one home run in four playoff games before joining the Phils.
Although Manuel has used Ruf sparingly - he made three pinch-hit appearances in three games before Tuesday - the manager has been impressed by the rookie's approach in batting practice.
"He puts me in mind of Bob Horner," Manuel said of the former Brave who hit 215 home runs in nine seasons from 1978-86. "He's got the same kind of a setup, the same stride of a Bob Horner, he's got quickness in his bat. And he hits the ball to all fields. I like that."
In addition to giving Ruf a chance, Manuel didn't rule out giving Chase Utley a chance to play third base in the season's final week. Utley began taking ground balls at third a month ago.
"We haven't been eliminated yet," Manuel said. "I understand where we're at, I understand everything about where we're at. At the same time, I feel like we have time if we want to try to put Chase over there."
Halladay to throw
Roy Halladay will throw a bullpen session Wednesday and is tentatively scheduled to make his final start of the season on Saturday in Miami.
The righthander gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in the Phillies' 8-2 loss to Atlanta on Saturday. Afterward, he said he had been recently bothered by spasms in his upper right shoulder.
"He'll throw a bullpen tomorrow and we'll make a decision after that, probably," Charlie Manuel said. "How he feels, how he throws will probably dictate what we do . . . If he throws a bullpen tomorrow and we feel like he can go, then he'll go."
If Halladay was pitching on regular rest, he could have taken the ball on Thursday, in the Phillies' final home game of 2012, and then could have made one more start in Washington next Tuesday. Instead, the Phils pushed him back until Saturday, the next time the team needs a fifth starter after shuffling the rotation following Monday's off day.
If they already decided it was best to push him back, why are the Phillies starting Halladay at all in what's very likely to be a meaningless game in Miami?
"Probably because he'd like to pitch," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "When you have a guy like him, he deserves that. If he wants to pitch and he feels he can pitch, then why not?"
Dubee echoed what general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday, that there is nothing structurally wrong with Halladay's shoulder. The team decided to give him 2 extra days of rest because of the spasms.
"To let [the spasms] subside," Dubee said. "It's not a structural thing. It's a spasms thing. Two different things. If it was structural, we'd definitely shut him down."
Halladay is 10-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 24 starts this season.
The Phillies, in their final series at Citizens Bank Park, are now 40-39 record at home this season. They had a losing record in their first eight seasons at the ballpark. The last time the Phils had a losing record at home was in 2000, when rookie shortstop Jimmy Rollins played in his first 14 major league games . . . Rollins is three runs shy of posting his sixth 100-run season. Only five players in Phillies history have had more 100-run seasons: Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson (eight), Mike Schmidt (seven) and Billy Hamilton and Bobby Abreu (six).
Contact Ryan Lawrence at email@example.com.