"I think he can help us," Amaro said. "A lot of it depends on how Charlie [Manuel] wants to use him. He can swing the bat and he's a solid, average defender in the corners. He's played centerfield before. I don't see him as a centerfielder necessarily, but he can play if necessary."
The Phillies entered spring training hoping that Ruf would force himself into the regular-season picture. Two weeks into the Grapefruit League schedule, the 26-year-old slugger has not done that. And his defense looks shaky enough to be a deal breaker. At some point in the next week or 2, the Phillies could decide to send Ruf to minor league camp in order to get him regular work in leftfield. That would leave Domonic Brown as the likely everyday rightfielder to start the season, with Nix and John Mayberry Jr. the two options in left. Really, those are the only choices. Look at the spring-training roster. There is nobody who even has an outside shot at making the Phillies rethink things.
So Mayberry and Nix it is, at least until Young returns from the disabled list, which sounds like it could happen within the first month of the season, although both the player and the Phillies have declined to provide even a hint about their expectations.
The rotation in leftfield probably would not be a straight platoon, but with Mayberry's career .232/.302/.379 against righties, you have to think that Manuel would try to work Nix' lefthanded power into the lineup fairly regularly.
In 2011 with Washington, Nix hit .263/.306/.475 with 16 home runs in 320 plate appearances against righties, prompting the Phillies to sign him to a 2-year, $3 million contract.
When 2012 began, Nix saw time in leftfield and at first base, starting 14 of the Phillies' first 32 games and hitting .326/.392/.587 with two home runs in 51 plate appearances. But on May 9, he suffered a calf strain while running the bases and ended up missing 63 games. By the time he returned in late July, the Phillies were preparing their trade-deadline fire sale and preparing to hand over the reins to some of the team's younger players.
"We have a lot of good options in the outfield, a lot of good outfielders, a lot of talent," said Nix, 32, who started just 12 of the Phillies' final 67 games, hitting .191 and striking out 31 times in 76 plate appearances. "I'm ready to get in where I fit in. I feel like this team has great upside to it. Guys are figuring it out."
One of the downsides of putting Nix in the starting lineup is that it removes the lone lefthanded power bat from the Phillies' bench, leaving Manuel with righties Kevin Frandsen and Mayberry, switch-hitter Freddy Galvis and backup catcher Humberto Quintero for late-game pinch-hitting situations (the fifth bench spot seems likely to be filled by Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte or Ruf until Young returns).
"It's something we'll have to deal with," Amaro said. "We can't cover for everything, but we'll see. We'll see if it becomes an issue for us."
A lot will depend on when Young returns, although by that point Nix should have plenty of opportunities to enhance his own role.
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