The Phillies geared up to face the San Francisco Giants. Tim Hudson was on the mound, and Ryan Howard was out of the lineup. We were all told very plainly by Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg that Darin Ruf was going to play:
But Darin Ruf, just up from Triple A, is at first base for a second day in a row for the Phillies.
“I wanted to get him two (games) in a row so he could get his feet wet here,” Sandberg said before Thursday’s game.
Sandberg was asked about how he intends to use Howard in the future.
“I look at it as a scenario where against some left-handed pitchers it could be a platoon situation going forward, depending on the numbers,” he said.
Then he didn't.
Today, as the Phillies are set to face Tim Hudson and the San Francisco Giants once again, Darin Ruf is on the bench. Ryan Howard is at first base. The two players have had very different weeks at the plate:
Ruf: 11 at bats, five hits, one home run, one walk, two RBI.
Howard: 22 at bats, four hits, zero home runs, two walks, three RBI
So what gives? It must be from above.
We have seen the Phillies front office force managers to make certain decisions before. Then-GM Ed Wade used to force Larry Bowa to use David Bell over Placido Polanco. Then we had to watch Placido Polanco win gold gloves and ALCS MVPs with the Detroit Tigers. Larry Bowa was also forced to bat Bobby Abreu third, despite success in the leadoff position, because the GM said so. We can logically conclude that Wade's protige Ruben Amaro Jr. would be doing the same thing here, because the move defies logic.
Amaro has made matters worse with his crowded outfield. Marlon Byrd simply cannot leave the lineup. How is Sandberg supposed to play Ben Revere, Grady Sizemore, Domonic Brown, and Darin Ruf all at once? Sandberg has been putting Ruf in left field against left-handed pitchers, since it's easy to justify. Otherwise, he sits.
Soon as Sandberg declared that Ruf was going to play, all of a sudden he did not. However, every move the Phillies have made the last three years has done anything they could to play the older, diminishing core. Smells like Amaro.