26-year-old Darin Ruf’s spring got off to a slow start, but
the slugger was starting to come around. He was batting .130 as of March 4, but
had since increased his average to .246 in the 11 games since. His slugging
percentage rose from .174 to .456 over the same span.
What’s more, Ruf was enjoying a great deal of success
against the Phillies’ upcoming opening day opponent, the Atlanta Braves. On
Friday he went 2-for-4 versus the Bravos, including smashing the game-winning
home run to give the Phils a 7-6 victory. In three tilts with the NL East
rivals, Ruf was 6-for-10 with five runs and three RBIs.
But when the Phils open their season in Atlanta on April 1,
Ruf will not be in the dugout. Shortly after jacking his second bomb of the
spring, the 2012 Eastern League MVP learned he was being optioned to Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley.
The move doesn’t come as a total shock. Besides Ruf’s early
struggles at the plate, the converted first baseman has had a hellacious
experience in left field. Not only that, but he’s caught up in a numbers game
on the roster, with Delmon Young working his way back from offseason surgery,
and Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte showing some promise. Plus, Laynce Nix is still in the picture, along with Ben Revere, John
Mayberry, and of course Dom Brown who's had an amazing spring.
Meanwhile, Ruf skipped Lehigh Valley entirely after breaking
the club’s minor league record for home runs in a season with 38. A few more ABs
and some refined defensive play probably couldn’t hurt.
Chances are he’ll be back in the show before you know it.
Still, a lot of people were hoping if not anticipating Ruf making the team out
of camp this year. It was not to be, but I suppose there’s no need to be
impatient – that is at least until you see this shot:
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