NEW YORK — Darin Ruf isn’t a threat to Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak, but in the context of the Phillies’ 2013 season, his recent streak of games has been impressive.
Ruf had played, and started, in every game since July 23, a stretch of 33 straight until Wednesday night. With unique right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching for the Mets, manager Ryne Sandberg decided to give his rookie slugger a rest.
“He’s done a heckuva job,” Sandberg said. “He’s played the schedule — day games, night games. He’s moved around positions and really played hard, and maybe this is a day to quicken up his bat a little and then get him back after it. He’s had a good string of games and it’s a good thing [for a day off] because he’s done well.”
During the 33-game streak, Ruf has nine homers with four doubles and a .250 (30 for 120) batting average. Additionally, Ruf has been solid at whatever position he has been asked to play.
For a rookie, Ruf has been able to go with the flow and fill in at whichever position he's needed. Even ones he’s never played before.
“He’s handled it great,” Sandberg said. “I saw him a little bit at first base during the spring and I liked his moves over there, so I wasn’t surprised about first base. In left field he struggled some in spring training and then gradually got better before he was sent down. I had heard he came a long way with left field and then he’s here and he’s in right field with no experience and he’s been great.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise, and he’s done well at all three positions along with a surprising arm throwing from the outfield. That surprised me a lot. I didn’t know he had an arm like that.”
Brown getting closer
Even with Ruf out, Sandberg isn’t quite ready to put outfielder Domonic Brown back into the lineup.
Out since Saturday with a balky Achilles, Sandberg said Brown is nearly ready to get back out there.
“He’s knocking on the door,” Sandberg said. “He’s close to being in there. It’s still a day-to-day situation, and he’s coming along really well.”
With Ruf and Brown out, Sandberg gave recent call up Pete Orr a start in left field.
Wednesday’s game will be Orr’s 2013 debut with the Phillies and his first game in left field in the big leagues since 2008. During the last two seasons at Triple A, Orr appeared in 20 games in left field.
“He’s played some left field for me over the last couple of years and he has a good arm and some foot speed, so he’s in there tonight,” Sandberg said.