Phillies Notebook: Ruf forced to quickly learn the right stuff

Posted: August 08, 2013

DOMONIC BROWN was activated from the disabled list yesterday, nearly 2 weeks since experiencing concussion symptoms after diving for a ball in St. Louis.

With Darin Ruf and Cody Asche on the roster, which shifted Michael Young from third to first, and Ruf from first to leftfield, Brown moved to his old position in rightfield, right? Wrong.

Ruf found out he was the one switching positions yet again when first-base coach and outfield instructor Juan Samuel approached him in the lunchroom at Citizens Bank Park yesterday afternoon.

"I was in the cafeteria area and he [Samuel] told me I was playing rightfield tonight and I thought he was joking," Ruf said. "But then he quickly changed the tone and said, 'No, I am really serious here. I was looking for you. You need to go take fly balls right now.' "

And so the 27-year-old Ruf started in right, a position he had played once in his life (in a winter ball game). He began playing the outfield regularly only a year ago, when the Phillies needed a place to play his near-major league ready bat, as Ryan Howard was entrenched at first base.

Ruf continued to play the outfield in the winter, but toward the end of spring training, he hadn't shown he was ready to be a major league outfielder. Four and a half months later, the Phils must feel differently, having the confidence not only to start him in the outfield, but shift him to a spot he's pretty much never played.

According to manager Charlie Manuel, however, the move had more to do with Brown than Ruf.

"Dom Brown's improved a lot in the outfield," Manuel said of the player who struggled to look comfortable in the outfield in his first few seasons with the Phillies. "And he's been playing leftfield and his improvement has actually come in leftfield. I think that his season speaks for itself. Right now, we want to definitely find out what our options are for right. That's where [Brown's] been improving [in left] and that's where he's played. I like keeping him there, basically when you get down to it."

Said Ruf, "Hopefully, I will be able to learn on the fly and pick it up pretty quickly."

Ruf said he'd talk with both Brown and Delmon Young, who have played both corner spots. But he also realizes that when he gets in between the lines, he'll be all by himself in a new spot.

"I guess I'll find out [what it's like]," Ruf said. "I think when you are playing leftfield, lefties' balls tend to slice to the line, in rightfield, righties' balls . . . so it is kind of reversed a little bit. But hopefully I will pick it up quickly, and the reads and routes will just, kind of, once I am out there, be similar to left, I guess."

Injury updates

While Roy Halladay took a step closer to pitching in his first game since May, Ryan Howard is progressing slowly from his July 10 knee surgery.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Howard, who is rehabbing in Clearwater, Fla., still hasn't been cleared to swing a bat. Amaro said Howard would not return to the Phillies this season unless he is 100 percent healthy.

Halladay, meanwhile, threw an extended bullpen session on Monday's off day that included five up-and-down sessions with the two-time Cy Young Award winner throwing all of his pitches.

"He threw 15 to 17 pitches each 'inning,' " Amaro said. "It went pretty well."

Halladay, who hit with the rest of the starting pitchers at Citizens Bank Park yesterday, could be nearing an official minor league rehab assignment. Amaro said the likely next step was for Halladay to face hitters in a simulated game situation.

Laynce Nixed

To make room on the roster for Domonic Brown, the Phillies designated Laynce Nix for assignment.

The 32-year-old Nix hit .180 with a .486 OPS and two home runs in 81 games (22 starts) this season. He was in the last year of a 2-year, $2.5 million deal.

On the same day the Phils parted ways with Nix, an outfielder they released in part because they had Nix under contract returned to Citizens Bank Park. Nate Schierholtz, who came to the Phillies a year ago in the Hunter Pence trade, entered the day hitting .268 with an .827 OPS and 14 home runs in 94 games with the Chicago Cubs.

Schierholtz, 29, signed a 1-year, $2.25 million with the Cubs after the Phillies non-tendered him in December.

"We were obviously very lefthanded," Amaro said of why he decided to part with Schierholtz, who went on the DL with a foot injury shortly after joining the Phillies last August. "I guess we didn't get the opportunity to see Schierholtz as much as we would've liked. In retrospect, I don't know if Schierholtz would've been playing all that much. Nix was playing a lot during the first part of the season when Delmon [Young] came on and was actually doing fine."

Phillers

The Phillies selected the contract of lefthander Cesar Jimenez to take Antonio Bastardo's place on the roster. Jimenez, 28, had a 3.12 ERA in 36 games at Triple A Lehigh Valley this season. He last appeared in the major leagues in 2011, when he had a 5.40 ERA in eight games with the Seattle Mariners . . . John Lannan (3-4, 4.10) will return to Nationals Park for the first time since leaving as a free agent when he starts against Washington on Friday. Lannan spent his first six big-league seasons with the Nationals and was their Opening Day starter in 2009 and 2010 before they sent him to the minor leagues for nearly all of the 2012 season. He'll pitch opposite righthander Dan Haren (6-11, 5.14) . . . The remaining pitching matchups at Nationals Park: lefthander Cliff Lee (10-5, 3.13) vs. righthander Taylor Jordan (1-3, 3.76) on Saturday and righthander Kyle Kendrick (9-8, 4.29 ERA) vs. righthander Stephen Strasburg (5-9, 3.01) on Sunday.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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