Phillies Notebook: Disappointed Ruf heading to the disabled list

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Darin Ruf is likely to miss the first month of season.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Darin Ruf is likely to miss the first month of season.
Posted: March 24, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Darin Ruf appeared to be a favorite to not only be on his first major league Opening Day roster on March 31, but to also be in the lineup as a designated hitter when the Phillies open the season in Arlington against the Rangers. But Ruf will not be able to do either of those things after an MRI on his rib cage yesterday. He is likely to miss the entire first month of the season.

Ruf was diagnosed with a Grade 1/2 left oblique strain and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, the Phillies announced after yesterday's exhibition game against Boston.

Ruf said yesterday morning that he had felt mild discomfort throughout the week but that he aggravated it during his second round of pregame batting practice Thursday in Kissimmee, where he was scratched out of the lineup prior to the game.

"It was one swing that took it to another level," Ruf said. "When that swing happened, it was very disappointing."

Ruf was still sore when he arrived at the Phillies clubhouse at Bright House Field yesterday.

"It wasn't a great sign when he was sore this morning," GM Ruben Amaro said. "We'll have to deal with it."

Last May, Chase Utley was diagnosed with a Grade 1 oblique strain after similarly suffering the injury in batting practice. Utley missed a month.

Ruf hit .217 with two home runs and two doubles in 18 games this spring, but he also had 18 total bases, one behind the trio of Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd and John Mayberry Jr. for the team lead.

The Phillies arguably lost two of their best pieces on the bench in less than 24 hours. Freddy Galvis will also begin the season on the DL after begin diagnosed with a MRSA infection stemming from a minor surgical procedure on his left knee.

With Ruf and Galvis out, Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen, Bobby Abreu, Tony Gwynn Jr. and reserve catcher Wil Nieves are near-roster locks while non-roster infielders Ronny Cedeno and Reid Brignac will compete to fill Galvis' shoes as a backup behind shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Cesar Hernandez hasn't played shortstop regularly since 2007, so he isn't a candidate for that job, but he did play five innings at short in the minor league game in Clearwater yesterday.

"We have 8 days," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Yeah, it's a blow. We have 8 days to look at everybody and it creates an opportunity. We don't have to make decisions right now. I'm going to look at everybody. We have eight games."

Lee looking sharp

Cliff Lee looked to be in midseason form last Saturday in Fort Myers, when he blanked the Boston Red Sox over five innings. Lee took it a step further 6 days later, when he was once again pitted against the defending World Series champions.

Lee didn't throw a ball in the first four innings of yesterday's game in Clearwater, and the Phillies rallied to earn a 2-2 tie in 10 innings.

"He had like 30 or 40 straight strikes - he didn't throw a ball until the end of the fifth," Sandberg said. "Cliff was great."

Lee matched fellow lefthander Jon Lester with five zeroes on the scoreboard, but yielded a two-out walk to Jonny Gomes that led to Boston scoring twice in the sixth.

It was just Lee's third walk in 19 2/3 innings this spring. Lee will have one more tuneup before taking the ball on March 31, Opening Day in Texas.

Yesterday, the Phillies rallied back with two runs in the eighth, sparked by a solo homer from Gwynn, his first of the spring.

Gwynn is hitting .333 with a .487 OBP, four extra-base hits, seven walks and three strikeouts in 16 games this spring.

Phillers

Cole Hamels is scheduled to pitch to hitters for the first time this spring today. Hamels entered spring training behind schedule after battling biceps tendinitis in November and then had his spring progression slowed earlier this month with fatigue. He could join the rotation in late April or early May . . . Both Mike Adams and Jonathan Pettibone are scheduled to pitch in minor league games in Clearwater today. Adams, who had shoulder surgery on July 31, is eyeing a return to the bullpen in mid-April. Pettibone, who dealt with shoulder soreness in the beginning of camp, hopes to be ready when the Phillies need a fifth starter next month . . . Ethan Martin resumed his throwing program on Thursday and threw again yesterday. He had been shut down for 3 weeks with a shoulder strain . . . Martin and catching prospect Tommy Joseph will shave their heads next Wednesday in support of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation's "Cut for a Cure" campaign.

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