For Darin Ruf, though, his appearance in the lineup at first base is the result of a perfect storm because Ryan Howard is struggling through the worst July of his career coupled with John Mayberry Jr. going on the disabled list with an injured wrist. If Howard’s career really is in jeopardy with the Phillies, as rumored, Ruf now has a chance to solidify his own spot.
It now appears that Ruf will play a lot of first base, his natural position. It will start as a platoon situation but if he gets hot, expect Ruf to play against right-handed pitching, too. The Phillies have grown tired of Howard’s .223 average and his subpar defense all season and would love nothing better than for Ruf to get hot right now.
The Phillies still anticipate making some moves before the July 31 trade deadline, but now the moves do not appear to be blockbuster trades involving ace left-handers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Lee, because he gave up a career-high 12 hits in his return to action on Monday night, and Hamels, because the Los Angeles Dodgers seemed to have cooled on its once-hot interest.
That does not mean the Phillies should not make changes and Ruf for Howard is one of those areas where they can do so. Also, outfielder Marlon Byrd and pitcher A.J. Burnett will probably be gone soon.
Someone, though, is going to have to pay for the team’s poor start and Howard will likely be one of those changes. If Ruf does well, it fixes at least one broken position.