CLEARWATER, Fla. — The education of Darin Ruf has stalled, and the Phillies can only hope Tuesday was the nadir.
Ruf struck out three times in a 15-2 loss to the Dominican Republic. One came against Edgar Garcia, a Phillies farmhand who pitched in independent ball last season, and was on loan to the Dominicans for a day. To top it off, Ruf failed to reach a catchable ball in the third inning that landed as a ground-rule double.
It has been a draining two weeks both physically and mentally for Ruf.
"Ruf is not the only guy to ever come to spring training and get off to a slow start," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It happens every spring and it's just what you have to go through. He'll be all right."
During Grapefruit League play, Ruf is 3 for 23 with one extra-base hit. He has misplayed his share of balls in left field.
Could the stress of manning a new position be affecting his bat?
"That's probably got something to do with his hitting," Manuel said. "He's trying too hard right now and things are not going good for him. He'll be all right. He is going to get some more hits. He’s fine. He's not going to go his whole life with all collars."
In an ideal world, Ruf's bat would overcome his defensive shortcomings. That has yet to happen in the small sample size of two weeks in spring training.
The likely alternative to Ruf in left field at the start of the season is a platoon between John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix. Nix homered Tuesday.
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