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."
SAN FRANCISCO — All Rhys Hoskins needed was to get the first one.
That's the way power hitters are.
They will tell you they don't think about hitting home runs.
But they do.
"As much as I want to say I wasn't trying to get the first one out of the way, I think it's probably pretty obvious that's what it was," Hoskins said after the Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants, 5-2, Sunday (see game story).
He was referring to his first 12 big-league at-bats during the Phillies' last homestand. He went hitless in those at-bats before reaching base on a single in his 13th at-bat and heading to his native California for seven games on his first big-league road trip.
Hoskins delivered. He went 8 for 25 with eight RBIs on the seven-game trip. He homered twice in the first game of the trip and three more times before it ended, including on Saturday and Sunday in the Phillies' only two wins of the trip.
"I feel like I'm getting into better counts and the results showed this week," the 24-year-old said.
Manager Pete Mackanin said he was never worried about Hoskins being over his head.
"You know how that goes," he said. "You can't jump to conclusions after 20 at-bats. You might say he's hitting .220 (actually .237), but we can tell from his at-bats he's a much better hitter than that."
Hoskins hit 38 homers at Double A Reading last season and 29 more at Triple A Lehigh Valley before coming up earlier this month. After 11 games — and five homers — he feels more like himself.
"I just wanted to settle in the box and feel more comfortable in the box and realize it really is the same game, 60 feet, six inches, they still have to throw the ball over the plate," he said. "I think that has a lot to do with it."
Hoskins had two hits in Sunday's win, including a home run. He played first base, his natural position. Jorge Alfaro played there Saturday night as manager Pete Mackanin held slumping Tommy Joseph out of the lineup two days in a row. Joseph is hitting just .185 against left-handed pitching this season and Mackanin kept him away from lefties Ty Blach and Madison Bumgarner.
With a doubleheader Tuesday against Miami, and two righties pitching for the Marlins, Mackanin is sure to use Joseph in at least one of those games.
But how about beyond that? Alfaro has produced at the plate over the last two days and the team officials want to continue to see him. He was already slated to get time behind the plate, but first base has also become a place for him to get occasional at-bats, as it is for Hoskins, as well.
How is this all going to shake out?
Mackanin said Hoskins "most likely" would continue to get most of his reps in left field, where he's been OK, despite a couple of bad reads, for a relative newcomer to the position.
Then Mackanin added: "Let me have the day off (Monday) to think about it. We'll see how we can make this all work."
SAN FRANCISCO — Ben Lively, his eyes wide before his eighth big-league start, looked around at his teammates moments before the game.
"Dude, this is a really familiar dugout," he told Rhys Hoskins.
Indeed. Six of the Phillies' nine starters Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park were recent teammates at Triple A Lehigh Valley. They recently graduated to the majors and on this day joined together in rallying for a 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants as the Phils closed out a West Coast trip with two wins and five losses (see Instant Replay).
It was a very entertaining ball game for several reasons:
The Phillies came back from a run down in the eighth inning and scored three times on a succession of five straight singles against Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.
Closer Hector Neris pitched himself into a tight spot when he plunked Buster Posey with a first-pitch fastball to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth. Posey took exception with the pitch, said something to Neris and moaned about it to reporters after the game (see video).
And then there was the IronPigs. All of the recent additions from Triple A had a hand in the win. All five of the Phillies' runs were driven in by players recently promoted. In Saturday night's win, a cast of recent additions drove in 10 of the Phillies' 12 runs. So, newcomers drove in 15 of the Phillies' 17 runs the last two days.
"We were pretty talented down there and I think it's good for this organization to have that kind of burst of energy," Hoskins said. "Hopefully it carries over to the homestand."
The IronPigs' impact started with Lively, who was recalled before the start and delivered six innings of two-run ball — "just what we needed," manager Pete Mackanin said.
It continued with utility man Pedro Florimon starting in left field, throwing out a runner at the plate and driving in three runs, including the tie-breaking run in the eighth.
Jorge Alfaro started behind the plate and drove in the tying run with a base hit in the eighth after coming back from an 0-2 count.
In all, the Phillies had five straight one-out hits in that inning — by Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Alfaro, Nick Williams and Florimon. All but Franco was in Triple A until recently.
"It's awesome," Lively said. "Everyone is getting an opportunity. A lot of people are making the best of their opportunities. That fires me up more than anything."
Two others who had been at Lehigh Valley this season, Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia, chipped in with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Hoskins gave the Phillies a little breathing room in the ninth inning when he bashed his fifth homer in his first 11 games in the majors. All of them came on this trip to his home state with a slew of friends and family in the seats.
"I think we could have come away with a couple more wins, obviously, but we're feeling pretty good going home, split the series after dropping the first two," Hoskins said.
The wins were the Phillies' only two in the state of California this season. They went 2-11 in the land of the Double-Double.
The game was not without some drama. With two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth, and the Phils clinging to a two-run lead, Mackanin summoned his closer, Neris, as the dangerous Posey — who had already singled and doubled — stepped in the box.
Neris' first pitch, a 95-mph fastball, hit Posey in the side. The usually mild-mannered Posey was angry and said something to Neris before cooler heads prevailed.
After the game, Posey was still angry.
"I'm pretty certain he hit me on purpose and it's just a shame because I wanted to compete in that at bat," Posey said. "I guess he didn’t feel he could get me out.
"It was a big spot. It would have been fun to hit."
Neris was incredulous when he heard what Posey said.
"Not a chance," he said when asked if he hit Posey on purpose. "I don't want to put the tying run on second base. I don't want to hit anybody in that situation."
Mackanin said there was no way Neris threw at Posey.
"If Hector hit him intentionally, I'm not real happy with Hector to put the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first," Mackanin said. "It doesn't make sense to me."