Ruf looking to shake the rust

Darin Ruf #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies tries to leg out an infield single against the New York Mets during the 4th inning at Citizens Bank Park on September 22, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

ALLENTOWN -- Darin Ruf admits that he still has serious rust and that isn’t surprising considering how long he was out with his left oblique strain.

Ruf suffered the injury on March 20, then began his comeback by playing four extended spring training games, and three more with Single-A Clearwater.

Now he is with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and while Ruf would love to be in the major leagues, he understands there is plenty of work to do.

In three games with Clearwater, Ruf had three hits (all singles) in 12 at-bats.

During his four games with the IronPigs, Ruf is batting 200 with two singles in 10 at-bats. He has a .450 OPS for Lehigh Valley and it shouldn’t be too surprising considering he had virtually no activity for about a month.
“I basically couldn’t do anything for four weeks,” Ruf said. “I had to ease back into swinging and playing and it is nice to be here.”

Ruf, who has played left field and first base at Lehigh Valley, refuses to even speculate when he would return to the Phillies.

One thing that appears clear is that the Phillies aren’t going to rush Ruf. General manager Ruben Amaro indicated in an earlier interview that only when Ruf is truly ready, the Phillies will bring him up.

If Ruf can regain his form, he should a useful righthanded power hitter that the Phillies can use off the bench and also start against tough lefties.

“Once I am in rhythm and playing every day and get a routine back and something I am confident in, hopefully it will lead to success on the field,” Ruf said.

Some of his hardest hit balls in Thursday’s 7-1 win over visiting Scranton-Wilkes-Barre went foul.

Ruf said that dealing with the injury was truly foreign territory for him.

“I had never gone on the DL before throughout my college and pro career,” he said. “It is kind of the first injury obstacle I had to face.”

 Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage understands that patience has to be practiced concerning Ruf.

“It’s not going to happen overnight for him,” Brundage said. “…This is a good level for him and to get better timing and it is more realistic for what you are facing and he is preparing himself to try to get back in the big leagues.”