A few major days for Ruf

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Darin Ruf said he is still working on his swing after missing time with an oblique injury.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Darin Ruf said he is still working on his swing after missing time with an oblique injury.
Posted: May 23, 2014

MIAMI - Darin Ruf may just be making a cameo appearance in the major leagues.

Ruf was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, manager Ryne Sandberg acknowledged Ruf could be with the team only during the 3-day period before the Phillies need to make another roster move to add a starting pitcher to fill Cliff Lee's place in the rotation on Saturday.

"Possibly for the 3 days, but we'll deal with that when the day comes," Sandberg said of Ruf, who was added to the roster when Lee was placed on the 15-day DL. "I see [Ruf] as an option off the bench in a situation."

Ruf hit two doubles Tuesday at Lehigh Valley. He homered Monday.

But with Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown entrenched at first base and leftfield, respectively, Ruf is without a position. Sandberg said before Ruf's arrival that he was no longer a consideration for rightfield, where Marlon Byrd plays. (There had been speculation that the Phillies could potentially slide Byrd to center to make room for Ruf.)

Before the Phils took pregame batting practice yesterday, Sandberg was asked whether he could see a scenario where he could find a place in his starting lineup for Ruf "two or three times" a week.

"Two or three times a week?" Sandberg said. "That would all depend."

If Ruf is going to be utilized no different from, say John Mayberry Jr., it might serve him best to go back to Triple A anyway to continue to get at-bats and keep his bat sharp. Ruf himself acknowledged it took some time to get his swing back in gear after not swinging a bat for 5 weeks following the oblique injury he suffered at the end of March.

"I don't know if I take off 5 weeks from swinging in the offseason," Ruf said. "So, it was almost taking more time off from swinging the bat than I have before. So it was tough getting back into things."

Ruf said he didn't feel great with his swing until the last "four or five games."

When the Phillies call up a pitcher for Saturday - David Buchanan would appear to be the frontrunner - figuring out who will be removed from the roster is tricky.

Mayberry, who is a useful righthanded bench piece, if nothing else, is out of options. Tony Gwynn Jr. has begun to play more regularly than Ben Revere in centerfield. Both Reid Brignac and Cesar Hernandez could be candidates, however, since Sandberg said it wasn't completely necessary to have two backup infielders on the bench.

"That depends on the makeup of the bench," Sandberg said. "Oftentimes you need one guy. It depends on who the pinch-runners are, off the bench. Who are the lefthanded bats, righthanded bats, all those guys? It all depends on the makeup of the whole bench."

Ruf came in as a defensive replacement for Howard at first in the eighth inning last night, then grounded into a doubleplay in the ninth inning of the Phillies' 14-5 loss to the Marlins.

"I just have to take it day by day and prove I can help this team win now," he said, "and hopefully I'll get that opportunity."

Ruf is likely to get another opportunity before Saturday, regardless of whether he's sent back to Lehigh Valley before the end of the weekend. The Phillies are scheduled to face a lefthander tomorrow night: two-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ruf, 27, hit .247 with a .348 OBP, 35 extra-base hits (including 14 home runs) in 73 games with the Phillies last season. Nine of Ruf's 14 home runs last year came in August; only Miguel Cabrera and Alfonso Soriano, with 11 each, hit more home runs than Ruf that month.

Filling in for Lee

David Buchanan's next scheduled day to start a game at Triple A Lehigh Valley is Saturday, making him the heavy frontrunner to replace Cliff Lee in the Phillies rotation. Buchanan, 25, is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts with the IronPigs.

The Phillies, meanwhile, still are uncertain how long they'll be without Lee. Lee will likely be shut down from throwing for at least a week and he'd likely need another couple weeks after he resumes throwing to get back into his regular routine, barring a setback.

If he returns within the month, the Phillies will likely be content. As for the last month, when Lee pitched with a pain in his elbow that would come and go, the Phillies don't appear to have any regrets.

"One time he would mention that he felt something, then the next time he wouldn't," Sandberg said of an injury Lee first felt after throwing a career-high 128 pitches against Atlanta on April 16. "It really would come and go. His bullpen [sessions] were solid, no complaints there . . . and the results were there right to the end . . . It wasn't a constant thing he had over the last 3 weeks."

Lee was diagnosed Tuesday with a Grade 1/2 left elbow strain after an MRI. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. termed it a "pretty mild" strain.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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