Phillies vets Rollins, Utley tune out trade talk

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Phillies vets Rollins, Utley tune out trade talk

Even though the media -- social, mainstream and otherwise -- is a abuzz with the potential for an active trade deadline for the Phillies, the players have been able to ignore most of the chatter.

Burrowed into a cocoon where TV and computers are used for watching video on hitting and pitchers, the trade chatter hasn’t filtered into the clubhouse.

Or so they say.

Though the stands are filled with scouts from opposing teams and the sports media continues to remain on alert for possible trades, old warhorses like Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are living by the old clichés.

Just one game at a time.

“As baseball players, I’ve been around a little while and we really try to focus on that day and when that’s over you focus on the next day,” Utley said. “You try not to get distracted or get too high or too low and you really try to put your blinders on and stay focused.”

According to Rollins, the trade talk is more pronounced when the team is losing.

“It happens every year -- more so when you’re losing,” Rollins said. “When you’re winning they talk about who to bring in. I’ve been around it, [Utley has] been around it and it really has no affect on us.”

It’s fun for fans to make fantasy trades or pretend they are the general manager, Rollins said. But ultimately, the players like to concentrate on other things.

“It makes a little excitement around baseball, but inside the clubhouse it doesn’t change a thing,” Rollins said.

Rollins and Utley have been around, though. And, with 10-and-5 rights -- 10 years in the big leagues, five years with one team -- both players can veto any trade.

Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo has been mentioned as a centerpiece in trades (see story), which is something he probably hasn’t heard much of.

Or maybe he has.

“I’m not that kind of person looking to see what’s going on around the league and stuff. I’m not into that," Bastardo said. “When I come in here I shut everything down. Everything is about baseball. That’s it.”

In other words, Bastardo has learned well from veterans Rollins and Utley.

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

The final eight games remaining on the Phillies’ 2016 schedule will undoubtedly serve as a farewell to Ryan Howard.

Lost in the background may be the fact this week could quite possibly be the end for the man who was supposed to platoon alongside him this year, as well: Darin Ruf.

Both men have been supplanted by Tommy Joseph, who's hit 21 home runs in just 100 games this year while positioning himself as the Phillies first baseman of the near future.

Ruf will start Saturday night against Mets’ lefthander Sean Gilmartin. The Phillies are not scheduled to face a lefty starter for the rest of the season, so Saturday could be one of the final chances to see Ruf in a Phillies uniform, especially considering manager Pete Mackanin’s stated intent to give Howard more playing time down the stretch.

“It seemed like we never faced a lefty for the first month of the season. So that didn’t help Ruf at the time,” Mackanin said.  “Joseph entered the picture and made an immediate impression.”

Ruf’s departure from the majors set the stage for Joseph’s immediate emergence. At the time of his May 13 demotion to AAA Lehigh Valley – and Joseph’s promotion -- Ruf was had a .158/.206/.193 slash line.
  
Since his Sept. 1 return to the majors after rosters expanded, Ruf has done what he can to make sure his possible final season in a Phillies uniform ends on a high note. On Friday night, he drilled a home run to left center off Mets reliever Josh Smoker in pinch-hit duty, the first time Ruf had gone yard since Oct. 1, 2015.

“It felt good,” Ruf said about ending his home run drought. “You just try to simply things and last night it worked out for me.”

Where Ruf will be next year is a more complicated matter, as the 30-year-old is out of minor league options. Japanese scouts were spotted at the games he played for AAA Lehigh Valley.

With Lehigh Valley, Ruf received an opportunity he’s never truly been able to get with the Phillies due to the longstanding presence of Howard: a chance to play every day and consistently accumulate plate appearances. He hit .294/.356/.529 in 390 trips to the plate for the IronPigs. 

Ruf has never made more than 300 plate appearances in a major league season and would struggle to crack that number if he remains in Philadelphia as a backup to Joseph, who will still be 25 on opening day next year.

“I learned [this year] that you can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Ruf said. “You’ve just got to keep working to get better every day, got to put up numbers no matter where you’re at in order to get to where you want. 

“Hopefully, wherever I’m at next year, I can do that.”

Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Tonight's Lineup: Jorge Alfaro catches, bats 8th vs. Mets

Jorge Alfaro is behind the plate for the Phillies tonight and bats eighth. Alfaro has appeared in just four games since being called up earlier this month, and has just one hit in 10 at-bats. 

Tommy Joseph is back in the lineup and batting fifth. Pete Mackanin has said that Ryan Howard would get a lot of playing time during the last few games, but it is Joseph who gets the start tonight. Joseph is batting just .154 against the Mets this season. 

Odubel Herrera, who has been hitting well in September, will remain in the three spot. He has two homers and is batting .391 over the past week. Herrera has two hits in six at-bats against Mets' starter Sean Gilmartin. 

Phillies

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, RF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF 
4. Maikel Franco, 3B 
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Darin Ruf, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Alec Asher, P