Photo Courtesy Penn Shelley
The Phillies lineup is released for tonight's game at the Houston Astros. No Darin Ruf again. Some are not very happy that Ruf has yet to see action since being summoned to the Phillies for Monday's game at home versus the Miami Marlins. Despite winning the AA Eastern League MVP, Rookie of the Year award, and coming close to the triple crown, Ruf must continue to ride the bench while the Phillies are in contention.
In plenty of games after the July 31 trade deadline the Phillies played as if they were not going to win. Case in point: Michael Martinez was recalled to see if he had anything to contribute in the Major Leagues rather than keep around .286-hitting Mike Fontenot. Phillies relievers such as Phillippe Aumont, Jake Diekman, and others were allowed to pitch in high-leverage situations instead of grabbing a veteran arm, just to see what they might be able to contribute in upcoming seasons. Hell, the Phillies threw Nate Schierholtz in center field a few games, even though he had never played center before, and gave Laynce Nix two starts in center field, even though he had not played the position in years.
Now? Things have changed. Juan Pierre is the veteran, so he must play left field against all right-handed pitchers. Ty Wigginton, though probably a little "Ruf" in left field, needs to play there because his bat is a known commodity. Mayberry is the best defender in center and should be there day in, day out. Ryan Howard, recovering or not, will play every game at first base. With the smell of blood in the air, the Phillies need to go for it, not try out guys who have never played above AA.
To get Ruf into a game, the Phillies ideally would have picked a game against a left-handed starter with light Major League experience, and put Ruf into left. Or, maybe they would give Ryan Howard a day off at first base. That simply cannot happen right now.
Granted, a game could go extra innings and Ruf get a pinch-hit in a blowout in either way, but do not expect to see Ruf under any other circumstances.
A week ago, the Phillies were still eight games out of the second wild card, and the chances seemed remote. Why they arguably still are, they are contenders. Until they aren't, Ruf needs to sit a while and watch.