Friday, February 12, 2016

Manuel eager to watch Ruf this spring

It remains to be seen who will be most impacted by the late offseason addition of right fielder Delmon Young, because that's the sort of thing that gets sorted out in spring training.

Manuel eager to watch Ruf this spring

Darin Ruf. (Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)
Darin Ruf. (Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)

It remains to be seen who will be most impacted by the late offseason addition of right fielder Delmon Young, because that's the sort of thing that gets sorted out in spring training.

Do the Phillies carry 11 pitchers, opening the door for six infielders and six outfielders? Does it cost an outfielder a job? Does it mean Darin Ruf opens the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley, a stop he skipped on the way to the big leagues last September?

These and other answers will be revealed under the swaying palm trees of Florida's Gulf Coast when the Phillies report to Clearwater, Fla. in two weeks.

What we can tell you on a morning that had a wintery mix here in Philadelphia is that manager Charlie Manuel remains enamored with Ruf.

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Darin Ruf

"We got a situation in the outfield that is going to be good, especially with Ruf," Manuel said without being asked about the power-hitting outfielder recently. "He could make it real interesting."

Those words jarred Manuel's memory from his days in Cleveland. He recalled the time when Indians general manager John Hart acquired Ruben Amaro Jr. from the Phillies in exchange for Heathcliff Slocumb.

"John Hart and I talked and we thought that Ruben and Wayne Kirby were going to be platooning in right field," Manuel said. "The only trouble was a guy by the name of Manny Ramirez came by at the age of 19 or 20 years old.

"So you get what I'm talking about with Ruf? Ruf might be ready."

It's a stretch to compare Ruf to Ramirez for a number of reasons. Ramirez was a first-round pick who was expected to become a star player and did. A year ago at this time, Ruf still wasn't on the radar as a prospect.

Ruf, a 20th-round pick in 2009, didn't reach the big leagues until the age of 25.

Regardless, it's clear that Manuel has an open mind about who will be his opening-day left fielder and that's good news for the kid who powered his way into the picture a year ago.

Inquirer Columnist
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