Video: Darin Ruf Hits Walk-off Home Run, Walks Off to IronPigs

Video: Darin Ruf Hits Walk-off Home Run, Walks Off to IronPigs

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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>> Phillies send Ruf to minors as OF picture begins to clear [CSN]

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Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.