MIAMI – The Phillies called up leftfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf to take Cliff Lee’s spot on the roster. Lee was officially placed on the disabled list with an elbow strain Wednesday morning (see story).
The question remains: Who will take Lee’s spot in the starting rotation Saturday against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park?
Manager Ryne Sandberg said it was possible the Phillies would know sometime Thursday.
“As of right now, we have a couple of choices,” Sandberg said before Wednesday’s game.
The most likely choice would seem to be sinkerballer David Buchanan. The 25-year-old right-hander nearly made the big club out of spring training and is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Buchanan pitched just one inning, allowing five hits and four runs, in his last start Sunday, but Sandberg said he was healthy.
Buchanan is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley on Saturday so he would be a seamless fit into the rotation.
Lefty Greg Smith, who has pitched in the majors with Oakland and Colorado, could also be a possibility. He is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley on Sunday.
Jesse Biddle, 3-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts at Double A (see story), is not a candidate for the start.
“He’s not ready to be in the big leagues,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He needs to throw more strikes.”
Biddle has allowed just 48 hits in 56 2/3 innings. He has walked 24 and struck out 61.
The Phillies are in the midst of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Without an off day on the horizon, it’s unlikely they would try to piece together a handful of relievers to get through Saturday’s start.
The Phillies will have to make a roster move to add a pitcher on Saturday so it’s possible Ruf could head right back to Triple A on that day to get more at-bats. He began the season on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique muscle and has had just 46 minor-league at-bats. Even Ruf has admitted he could use more at-bats before he’s on top of his game. Still, if Ruf shines in whatever role he plays these next few days, he could force management to keep him and send out another player.
Outfielder Ben Revere has a minor-league option remaining, but Amaro said, “Ben’s not going down.”
Revere, sporting a .284 on-base percentage, did not start for a fifth straight game Wednesday night. He missed a couple of those games because he was ill.
Revere could be back in the lineup Thursday afternoon against right-hander Henderson Alvarez.