Darin Ruf went 2 for 4 with a home run in the Phillies' win to extend his on-base streak to 33 games. (USA Today Images)
Whether he's positioned at first base, in left field or across the way in right, Darin Ruf and his approach in the batter's box remain the same.
Consistency is something Ruf has focused on since joining the Phillies in early July, but in the field he's been jockeyed around quite a bit.
The 27-year-old call-up began his time in Philadelphia at first base, shifted to the left side of the outfield and, on Tuesday night, played in right for the first time in his MLB career after Domonic Brown was activated from the disabled list.
Ruf, who is on a torrid pace at the plate, said he doesn't let his offensive mindset cross paths with the defensive one, and that was certainly the case in the Phillies' series-opening win over the Cubs (see game recap).
The Phillies’ new rightfielder went 2 for 4 with a home run, a double and two RBIs, all while registering a couple of putouts.
"I think Ruf is going to have to hit, but I think he can," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It seems like he gets better the more he plays, so that's good."
Ruf stretched his on-base streak to 33 games, the longest for a Phillie since Chase Utley did so from September 2008 to April 2009. Ruf currently holds the longest active on-base streak in the bigs.
The Nebraska native said his pitch selection has been on-point and that he and the coaching staff formulate a plan of attack before each plate appearance.
"I'm seeing the ball well," Ruf said. "It's nice when you get a good pitch to hit, you're swinging at strikes and having a plan every at-bat. That's what we've kind of been talking about and it's nice to go up there and execute."
Outside of the streak, Ruf's statistical value has, accordingly, spiked dramatically.
His two-hit performance against Chicago pushed his batting average to .309 through 25 games in 2013. The right-handed hitter hasn't just steadily reached base safely, his slugging percentage has risen as well, making him a more complete hitter.
Ruf's OPS is at .960 on the season. He isn't qualified to be ranked in the category because of his short stint so far in the majors, but just for comparison's sake, Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez (.958) and Cincinnati's Joey Votto (.951) are fifth and sixth in the league, respectively, in OPS.
Ruf feels as though he's taking advantage of an opportunity presented to him by Manuel and the Phillies, but one month of stellar hitting isn't an end result.
"So far, yeah. But there's still 50 or so games left and it's important to stay consistent," Ruf said. "It's nice to have a month of success right now, but that's not the ultimate goal to have one month of success. It's to have a successful career. Multiple seasons of playing baseball well."