Darin Ruf hit 51 home runs between the Minor Leagues, Majors, and winter ball in 2012. Yet he knows that his performance last year may not be good enough to give him a starting job with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013.
Ruf started spring training 0-for-10 before picking up three hits in his last six at-bats entering play Saturday. What’s been more apparent is that his defense in left field has been less than stellar. He has botched a couple of plays in the outfield, letting the ball play him instead of playing the ball aggressively.
It’s usually the biggest conundrum for anyone trying to learn the outfield, and Ruf’s early struggles have caught the eyes of many. In the end, his play in left field could cost him a starting job come Opening Day.
The Phillies simply don’t have a starting spot assured for Ruf based off his play in 2012, which is why he is working so hard to learn the ins and outs of left field. With Ryan Howard off to a strong start this spring, Ruf can’t be thinking about getting any playing time at first base, which would be a more natural fit for him.
However, with Delmon Young potentially out until May, Ruf would have to think he at the very least has a spot on the roster.
The Phillies will likely carry five outfielders on their Opening Day roster: Ruf, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Laynce Nix, and John Mayberry, Jr. The last two names are important to Ruf, because they are his direct competition as of right now for a left field job.
Luckily enough for Ruf, Mayberry is not tearing the cover off the ball this spring, something that’s repeated from last spring. Eventually, that led to many questions about Mayberry and his ability to handle a starting spot, and he never truly blossomed the way the Phillies thought he would last season.
Ruf is trying to make sure that he makes a strong enough impression to win a starting spot and keep it in 2013.