Results tagged ‘ Darin Ruf ’
He had just smashed a baseball onto the thatched roof of the mini-tiki bar in left field for a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Phillies a 7-6 victory over the Braves. The ball bounced off the roof, out of the ballpark and onto the MLB Network satellite truck below. It was a nice moment for Ruf, who had struggled early this spring as he competed for a job in the Phillies outfield. But before Ruf had a chance to enjoy the moment, the Phillies called him into manager Charlie Manuel’s office and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ll be pulling for him,” Manuel said. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll see him here (this season). It depends on how our offense goes. He’s capable of being a really good hitter.”
There have many storylines in camp, but as Spring Training in Florida comes to a close everybody seems to be talking about five things.
Let’s take a look at those five topics here:
Roy Halladay. There is reason to be concerned about Halladay. He looked fine in his first two Grapefruit League starts, throwing his fastball in the 89-91 mph range. But his velocity has dropped since then as he has had issues in each of his previous three starts. In his third Grapefruit League start his velocity fell into the 86-88 mph range as he talked about experiencing “dead arm.” He got shelled in 2 2/3 innings in his fourth start March 12, saying he felt lethargic. Then he lasted just one inning in his fifth start Sunday because of a stomach virus. Everybody is asking if Halladay is healthy. It is a fair and legitimate question to ask because Halladay and others in the organization said he was fine last March when he was experiencing lower back problems. But while the health question is justifiable, one also might ask this: Is Halladay simply running out of bullets? He turns 36 on May 14. He has pitched 2,351 1/3 innings from 2002-12, which ranks third in baseball. He has thrown 34,423 pitches in the regular season and postseason in that span, not including Spring Training games, bullpen sessions and warm ups. Maybe time is catching up to him, although he said in February he does not think he is there yet. It is a grim reality if it is true. Meanwhile, the Phillies are putting a positive spin on things, saying Halladay’s problems simply stem from a few mechanical issues and some problems with his cutter. They say all is well. They certainly hope they are right because it would be a blow to their chances if it is not. Halladay threw a bullpen session Wednesday and Rich Dubee said through a team spokesman, “Roy threw very well. He almost lost 10 pounds, so he’s just got to gain some weight back and get his strength.” Halladay is scheduled to make two more starts this spring before the regular season, including Saturday in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex. It is strange to be writing this, but while in the past nobody would think twice about a couple poor Spring Training starts from Halladay, some positive results here would put some minds at ease. And not just the minds of fans. Phillies officials are putting up a brave face, but they would like to see some, too.
He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the Dominican Republic in a 15-2 loss at Bright House Field. He also could not get to a ball Miguel Tejada hit to left-center field for a ground-rule double in the third. The ball appeared catchable.
Ruf is hitting .111 (3-for-27) with one double, three RBIs, two walks and nine strikeouts in nine games, including today’s game which does not figure into the official Spring Training statistics.
“It looks like he didn’t get no hits,” said Charlie Manuel, when asked what Ruf looked like at the plate. “Right now things aren’t going good for Ruf. He’ll be all right. Ruf isn’t the only guy to ever come to Spring Training and get off to a slow start. It happens every spring. He’ll be fine. He is going to get some more hits. He’s not going to go all of his life with collars.”
Roy Halladay pitches for the Phillies. They were encouraged with what they saw from him in Sunday’s start against Detroit, but it was just one start in February. You can’t draw any conclusions from anything you’ve seen so far in camp. Of course, the players that are playing well say it’s great to get results and those results mean something to them. The players that aren’t getting results? Well, they’re just getting their work in.
I took a look yesterday at the outfielders competing for jobs and playing time. Domonic Brown clearly has taken a step forward, but there is time for the others to state their case. Interestingly, Charlie Manuel pulled John Mayberry Jr. to the side during batting practice before their 10-5 victory over Atlanta and had an animated conversation with him about just that. Delmon Young also talked about his trip to the doctor in Tuesday in LA. He’s optimistic he will get good news, which will allow him to step up his rehab.
Darin Ruf hasn’t played in the field since Monday because of a sore right arm, but he said today he is fine and should be back in the field tomorrow.
Ruf is making the move from first base to left field, which means a lot more throwing. He said he felt some soreness in his biceps following throwing drills.
“It’s normal,” he said. “I was feeling great today and I’m back in there tomorrow.”
Ruf, who is competing for a job in the outfield, is 0-for-9 this spring. He grounded out sharply to third baseman Mark Sobolewski in the eighth inning of today’s s 12-5 loss to the Twins at Hammond Stadium.
“I felt like I put a good swing on it. Mark just made a good play,” Ruf said. “I thought we were better friends than that, but whatever. As long as I’m having good at-bats … I’m seeing the ball well.”
On new third baseman Michael Young. “Golly, I was talking to (Phillies president) David Montgomery about him 10 minutes ago. What a lot of people don’t realize and I haven’t heard it, Michael Young could retire tomorrow and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s probably two Michael Young years away from being a first ballot Hall of Famer. I don’t know if anybody has thought about that. I don’t know what his career hitting numbers are, but he’s a little like Derek Jeter, is he not? He’s that kind of player and he’s had that kind of career. Obviously it’s not playing in New York, but if he played in New York, imagine what people would be saying about Michael Young’s career? Somebody would have mentioned the Hall of Fame a long time ago.”
On connecting with Ryan Howard early in camp. “I’ve got to tell you right out of the chute, Ryan Howard to me is very interested in my input in his hitting. To me that makes me really feel good. We’ve chatted over the years about hitting. I’ve always been a Ryan Howard fan, but he’s picking my brain a little bit more. He looks good. He’s thin. He’s doing some of the things we talk about. It’s not going in one ear and out the other. He’s taking it all in. I’m only in my second day here and I’m really excited. I feel like I’ve made more strides in my temporary coaching role than I ever had to this point. Of course we’ll see in a couple weeks how it all works out as they get game at-bats.”
On how he can help Howard the most. “He’s stuck in a game situation against the best pitcher, one of the best left-handers in the league, probably 60-70 times more than other any hitter in the league. He probably creates 20 jobs in the Major Leagues. There’s 20 left-handers that wouldn’t be in the Major Leagues if Ryan Howard weren’t in the major leagues, right? I guess what we’re kind of working on is a mindset that may allow him to become a little stronger in those at-bats. A little more contact. He’s still going to strikeout. I’m in the top 10 all time in strikeouts so I’m pretty comfortable with striking out. But I think he needs to and we were talking about ways where we might get him to be a little less strikeout prone in those kind of (Jonny) Venters at-bats, against Atlanta late in the game, when you get that nasty left-hander to get him out. We need contact in this at-bat. I don’t care if it’s a grounder to second or a chopper up the middle. Even if it’s on the first pitch or second pitch. Less foul balls and two-strike vulnerability in those at-bats. He has bought into the discussion 100 percent.”
On Darin Ruf. “At this point I’m a big fan. I chatted with him really quickly, told him, ‘Congratulations on your great start with the Phillies in the Major Leagues.’ I think he opened a lot of eyes when he came up. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I would guess they want him to play … I just like him. He’s a great young kid. He has no fear as a hitter against tough right-handers. You see that sometimes. He can give you a hell of an at-bat against a nasty right-handed pitcher. He’s very mature for 26. I wouldn’t discount him being your Opening Day starter (in left field). Let’s wait and see. He has everything you need to win that job.”
On Domonic Brown. “From a hitting standpoint, even now he might be ahead of where I was at that time, a little better idea of hitting. I couldn’t hit a ball to the opposite field to save my butt back then. I couldn’t hit a curve ball, I couldn’t hit a slider. But I sure could hit a long home run down the left-field line and play third base. I was afforded the time to make adjustments and sort of become an everyday, consistent Major League hitter. He doesn’t have that luxury. He has Darin Ruf hounding him … he’s got like six guys who want his position. For him to get that guarantee of, ‘You’re our left fielder, you’re getting 500 at-bats’ is very, very hard. … It’s about time that Domonic does the things that everyone thinks he can do. And not do them over a day, but does them over a month, then two months. And that’s when he gets his name inserted in the lineup every day.”
It’s always interesting to get Dallas Green‘s take on the Phillies. He has spent a lifetime in baseball, spending the recent past working in the Phillies’ front office as an adviser. The man has his opinions.
I wanted to talk to him yesterday about the past and if he sees any relation to the Phillies’ future. The Phillies won three consecutive National League East championships from 1976-78 before stumbling badly in 1979. Players knew entering the 1980 season they basically needed to get things turned around or the front office would make some big changes. Of course, they won the World Series. I asked Green if he thought there were any comparisons between the 1979-80 and the 2012-13 teams.
But Green also offered his take on the current Phillies. Here is some of what he said:
Q: Can this team compete?
A: It’s a good club. The age business in baseball isn’t as stark as other sports in my mind. There are ways to rest guys. There are ways to take care of themselves, even though 162 is a hell of a grind. But our guys are very experienced. Jimmy (Rollins) knows how. Unfortunately he shows it too many times running to first, but Pete (Rose) never let age get to him. He didn’t have a great year in ’80, but he played his ass off. And experience carried him. Boonie (Bob Boone) was starting to show some age. Bull (Greg Luzinski) was breaking down a little bit too often. Smitty (Mike Schmidt) was still sound, but he was in his 30s. (Manny) Trillo, same way. Bake (McBride), same way. (Larry) Bowa, same way. There are a lot of similarities.
Q: Do you like the moves the Phillies made in the offseason?
A: I love Michael Young. I think he epitomizes what Chase (Utley) brings: the team value, the work ethic that’s important to a club like this. I mean, we lived on natural talent for so long. We really did. We could out-talent a lot of teams. We can’t do that anymore. You cannot go out there and just bang guys around and say, ‘We’re the Phillies.’ Now you’ve got to respect the other guys and figure out a way to win the game. And that takes some thought process in game situations. Those are very, very important. Game situation baseball is what I preach and what I live by. You can’t always hit a home run. You can’t always out-talent guys. You can’t always have good days. So you’re going to have a bad day, where you say, ‘If we can just get a run.’ That hurts pitching when you can’t.
Q: Would it surprise you if this team made the playoffs?
A: Oh, no. It wouldn’t surprise me. It really is expected. Again, there’s ifs. God damn, you’ve got to stay healthy. And we’ve got to have a couple of the young guys come through here. Whether it’s (Domonic) Brown or (Darin) Ruf or whoever. Somebody has to step forward and play baseball. Somebody has to. Even in the pitching. We’ve got a young bullpen. (Mike) Adams obviously is a big fit for us. And of course we’ve got (Jonathan) Papelbon. He’s one of the best. And then (Antonio) Bastardo, one day he’s good the next we don’t know what we have. And the rest of them are young. And they’re the guys that have to come forward. At least keep us in the god damn game in the sixth and seventh inning so if we can mount comebacks we can mount comebacks.
Q: You had some young guys step up in ’80. This team does need some young guys to step up this year.
A: It’s the same old thing. If you’re a prospect eventually you’ve got to put numbers up. You’ve got to put numbers up. I’ve always felt that in the Minor Leagues. I said how in the hell can I bring a guy hitting .220 over 140 games to the big leagues and expect him to be a big production guy? You can’t do it. Sooner or later in the Minor Leagues you’ve got to put some numbers up. And that gives you enough confidence to put you out here. It’s like Ruf. A couple years ago probably half of us didn’t think he could play. But he worked at his game, he got himself in better shape and he started popping the ball. That’s his style. He’s a home run hitter. He isn’t going to win a Gold Glove. You’re not getting a Gold Glove. And Brownie. I love the guy. I really do. Brownie has to step up. I read about opportunity. Gene Mauch used to tell us, ‘Here’s your opportunity. When I give you the baseball, go get an out. When I tell you to pinch-hit get a hit.’ That’s the opportunity. I’ve always impressed guys — that’s your opportunity. You couldn’t ask for more opportunities than he’s had for the production he’s given us. Opportunity is opportunity. ‘What’s my role? What’s my role?’ The role is if you make the 25 (man roster), if you’re asked to do something do it.
The way I see it, four of the Phillies’ five outfield jobs are locks or close to locks:
- Ben Revere. He’s the centerfielder.
- Delmon Young. He’s the rightfielder, although he could miss the first couple weeks of the season following ankle surgery.
- John Mayberry Jr. I think he makes the team because he hits left-handed pitching well, he’s out of options and because he’s the only other guy in this group other than Revere that can play center field.
- Laynce Nix. He’s making $1.35 million this season and he’s a veteran left-handed bat with pop. I suppose there’s a situation where the Phillies could release him, but it seems unlikely at this point.
That leaves Brown and Darin Ruf competing for the final outfield job, although Young’s health could make everything written here moot. But here’s what Brown said today about his job prospects:
Q: Your reaction to the Phillies signing Young?
A: We needed a right-handed bat. I mean, he’s going to play outfield for us. I’m coming in to win a job. That’s it. No worries.
Q: Does switching positions matter?
A: It doesn’t matter. Whatever I need to do for the team. It really doesn’t matter.
Q: What do you need to work on to be a starting, everyday player?
A: What do I need to work on? I don’t know man. They say defensively, I don’t know though. I’m just going to go out, keep having fun and really not worry about anything. If I get sent down, that’ll be that, too. I’ll just go down and work hard. And that’s it.
Q: So it’s your defense?
A: No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m just telling what you guys say. I really don’t think that at all. I don’t think so. If I get 4-500 at-bats I think I can show what I’m really capable of doing.
Q: Are you waiting for that opportunity to get an opportunity to do that over a full season?
A: You know what? I’ve been waiting for that for a long time. When I get that opportunity, getting that like I did at the second half of last year, see what I’m capable of in 4-500 at-bats.
Q: How healthy are you?
A: I’m ready to go
Q: Is this one of your last shots to win a job?
A: I don’t know. We’ll leave that up to Ruben, man. He makes the decisions. I’ve still got one more option, so we’ll see what happens.
Q: Can you hit left-handed pitching well enough?
A: If you check the stats coming through the minor leagues with 400, 500 at-bats, you’ll see how Domonic Brown hits lefties better than righties. I don’t think that’s ever been a problem.
Q: Do you feel you haven’t gotten the chance to show your best?
A: I’m not saying that. We’ve had some tough times. We’ve had some injuries. We had some big guys in the lineup that needed to play. So when I got called up it was a time for 100, 200 at-bats, that was the most I had. And that’s been it. I’m just saying I hope I can get a full season under my belt.
Q: Does the talk about your defense motivate you?
A: Oh yeah, I use everything as motivation. I’ve been through a lot of tough times growing up. This stuff really isn’t that big a deal. Really. Seriously. I’m just having fun playing baseball and that’s really it.
Q: Do you think injuries have been more a part of it?
A: That’s been the biggest thing. That’s really what I want to focus on this year, just staying healthy. The last three years I’ve fought a couple injury bugs. I think that’s been the setback.
Q: How would you describe what you’ve been through?
A: I’ve been through a lot, but still at the end of the day there are much more positive things than negative. It all balances out and I throw those little negative things in the garbage because I know the positive stuff is a lot. I’ve been through a lot, but I’ve had a lot of great moments.
Q: How strange is it to go from touted prospect to doubted prospect?
A: I don’t know, nan. I think there are a lot of other teams that still want me. That’s just how it is in a big market. You have to go out and perform and if you don’t, then usually they get rid of you. I’m not even going to lie to you. I thought I’d have been gone a long time ago, not because of my performance, but because of the guys they could have got for me. I don’t even look at the trade talk anymore because normally I’m in every trade talk.
A few notes today regarding the Phillies:
- The Blue Jays claimed right-hander Tyson Brummett off waivers. Brummett spent most of the season with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley before making his big-league debut with the Phillies on Oct. 3.
- The Phillies outrighted infielder Pete Orr and catcher Steve Lerud from the 40-man roster. The Phillies have 37 players on the roster, plus four players on the 60-day disabled list.
- Phillies third base prospect Cody Asche is hitting .360 with four doubles and three RBIs in six games in the Arizona Fall League. Infielder Freddy Galvis is hitting .460 with one double, one triple, three home runs and five RBIs in Winter Ball in Venezuela. Outfield prospect Tyson Gillies has hit .467 with one double, one triple and two RBIs in four games in Venezuela. Darin Ruf is hitting .133 in four games in Venezuela.
- Phillies hitting coach Steve Henderson will wear No. 5 next season. Assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner will wear No. 21. Bullpen coach Rod Nichols will wear No. 54. And third base coach Ryne Sandberg will wear No. 23, assuming catcher Brian Schneider does not return next season.