Darin Ruf may just be making a cameo appearance in the major leagues.
Ruf was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, manager Ryne Sandberg admitted Ruf could be with the team just during the three-day period before the Phillies need to make another roster move to add a starting pitcher to fill Cliff Lee's place in the rotation on Saturday.
"Possibly for the three days, but we'll deal with that when the day comes," Sandberg said. "I see him as an option off the bench in a situation."
Ruf hit two doubles on Tuesday at Lehigh Valley. He homered on Monday.
But with Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown entrenched at first base and left field, respectively, Ruf is without a position. Sandberg said before Ruf's arrival that he was no longer a consideration for right field, where Marlon Byrd plays. (There was speculation that the Phillies could potentially slide Byrd to center to make room for Ruf).
Before the Phils took pregame batting on Wednesday, Sandberg was asked if he could see a scenario where he could find a place in his starting lineup for Ruf "two or three times" a week.
"Two or three times a week?" Sandberg said. "That would all depend."
If Ruf is going to be utilized no different that, say John Mayberry Jr., it might serve him best to go back to Triple-A anyway to continue to get at-bats and keep his bat sharp. Ruf himself admitted it took some time to get his swing back in gear after not swinging a bat for 5 weeks following the oblique injury he suffered at the end of March.
"I don’t know if I take off 5 weeks from swinging in the offseason," Ruf said. "So, it was almost taking more time off from swinging the bat than I have before. So it was tough getting back into things."
Ruf said he didn't feel great with his swing until the last "4 or 5 games."
When the Phillies call up a pitcher on Saturday - David Buchanan would appear to be the frontrunner - figuring out who will be removed from the roster is tricky.
Mayberry, who is a useful righthanded bench piece, if nothing else, is out of options. Tony Gwynn Jr. has began to play more regularly than Ben Revere in center field. Both Reid Brignac and Cesar Hernandez could be candidates, however, since Sandberg said it wasn't completely necessary to have two backup infielders on the bench.
"That depends on the makeup of the bench," Sandberg said. "Oftentimes you need one guy. It depends on who the pinch-runners are, off the bench. Who are the left-handed bats, right-handed bats, all those guys. It all depends on the makeup of the whole bench."
For the time being, Ruf is in the Phillies clubhouse, awaiting his first major league swings of the 2014 season.
"I just have to take it day by day and prove I can help this team win now," he said, "and hopefully I’ll get that opportunity."
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