Ruf off DL, to get more at-bats at Triple A

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Darin Ruf is off the disabled list but will continue to get at-bats with the IronPigs.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Darin Ruf is off the disabled list but will continue to get at-bats with the IronPigs.
Posted: May 16, 2014

DARIN RUF was reinstated from the disabled list yesterday, but he will not be adding some power to a punchless outfield when the Phillies take the field tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

Ruf, sidelined for 2 months since suffering an oblique (rib cage) strain on March 20, was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley yesterday. Ruf began playing rehab games with the IronPigs on Monday and he will continue to get regular at-bats with the team.

Ruf's official rehab lasted all of a week, although he has been getting at-bats for close to 3 weeks since his work began in extended spring-training games in late April. Both general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and assistant GM Scott Proefrock have said recently that Ruf's return might not be imminent because he needed to ample time to get his bat back in gear.

Ruf went 5-for-22 (.227) with three RBI and no extra-base hits in six rehab games between Lehigh and Class A Clearwater. Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage agreed with his superiors in Philly on Ruf's bat needing more work.

"It's not going to happen overnight," Brundage said Wednesday night. "He's not going to jump in and be hotter than a firecracker . . . He's a big man who swings a powerful bat.

"Having him last year, there were a lot of issues with the timing and wanting to make sure that things are going right, trying to hit the ball through the middle and to all fields. That's when he's going best."

Desperate times often call for desperate measures, though, and it's fair to wonder how long the Phillies can let Ruf get those at-bats in Triple A while two-thirds of the team's big-league outfield struggles on a regular basis.

Ben Revere and Domonic Brown were penciled into manager Ryne Sandberg's lineup on Wednesday afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels and have made 30 and 34 starts this season, respectively. Their production has been minimal.

Phillies leftfielders have a .573 OPS in 38 games this season. They have a .283 slugging percentage. They have seven extra-base hits.

Among leftfield production of baseball's 30 teams, Phillies leftfielders ranked last in all three of those categories.

Phillies centerfielders, meanwhile, have three extra-base hits (last in baseball), a .296 slugging percentage (second to last) and a .595 OPS (third to last in baseball). Among players who have at least 100 plate appearances out of the leadoff spot, Revere's .289 OBP when hitting first ranks 22nd out of 25 players in baseball.

If Ruf is on the major league roster, the Phils have the option to sit Brown and Revere more often. (Ruf surely isn't playing center, but Sandberg said he isn't against trying Marlon Byrd in centerfield.)

Take the paltry production the Phillies are getting from left and center. And then plug in the .188 the team's third basemen are hitting through the season's first weeks.

The end result: The Phillies are receiving minimal offense from three-eighths of their lineup.

"On the offensive side we have two, three, four guys a day capable of doing the job," Sandberg said. "I'd say [Jimmy] Rollins, [Chase] Utley, [Ryan] Howard and [Marlon] Byrd have been fairly consistent the last couple weeks doing a pretty good job of hitting, at least two of them, three of them. Our better players are doing a good job and they've been fairly consistent swinging the bats. We've got to get better as a full lineup."

Young players are expected to have growing pains. Third baseman Cody Asche has played in 84 games over the last two seasons, just over a half season.

Brown and Revere have each spent parts of five seasons in the major leagues, so their growing pains should be gone. But with Ruf continuing to get his at-bats in an IronPigs uniform, Sandberg doesn't have many intriguing alternatives to add more production to an outfield that's arguably the worst in baseball.

Daily News staff writer Jake Kaplan contributed to this story.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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