Phillies Option Darin Ruf To Triple-A
Consider the Babe Ruf experience on hold.
About 20 minutes after crushing a walk-off home run in the Phillies 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves at Bright House Field, the left field hopeful was optioned to Triple-A, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, who reports that GM Ruben Amaro said Ruf will play five times a week in left field and once at first base for Lehigh Valley.
The move doesn't come as a surprise, as it was long thought that Ruf's struggles in the outfield necessitated more development defensively in the minors, and with a .226 average and .701 OPS in Grapefruit League play this spring, the 26-year-old didn't hit himself onto the team.
Still, for a guy who vaulted his team to victory within the hour, the timing seems odd.
Only, it coincides with a deadline on a roster decision that needs to be made on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who can ask for his release if he's not on the 40-man roster by Sunday. It's possible that Betancourt could be retained beyond Sunday only to be dealt for minor league depth; the Cardinals have reportedly shown interest, and Hanley Ramirez' injury in the World Baseball Classic could pique that of the Dodgers.
But even then, a roster spot would eventually need to be cleared for outfielder Delmon Young, who in his first start of the spring on Friday hit a home run off R.A. Dickey in an a minor league game against Toronto. Young is expected to start the year on the DL, and isn't likely to be ready until mid-to-late April. Only then can the Phillies begin to decide whether Young is worth keeping on the roster over Ruf.
Rule 5 pick-up Ender Inciarte, who will be sent back to Arizona if at any point this year he's not on the 25-man roster, also factors in. Though Amaro reportedly hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a trade for the 22-year-old outfielder.
The move all but solidifies a spot for John Mayberry, of note because the utility outfielder and first baseman doesn't have any minor league options remaining.
Ruf last year earned Eastern League MVP and Rookie of the Year honors and broke Ryan Howard's league record with 38, and impressed in his time with the major leaguers after September roster expansion by posting a 1.079 OPS in 12 games, endearing himself as a fan (and Charlie Manuel) favorite every step of the way.
Though for now, the next chapter of his story will have to wait.