Sunday, April 26, 2015

No broken bones for Darin Ruf, but outfield depth takes another hit

There were no broken bones in Darin Ruf's left wrist or right knee, but the Phillies were dealt another blow to the thinnest unit in the organization.

No broken bones for Darin Ruf, but outfield depth takes another hit

WASHINGTON - Darin Ruf required stitches and two X-rays Wednesday after colliding into a concrete wall at Coca Cola Park in Allentown. There were no broken bones in his left wrist or right knee, a fortunate development for the Phillies, but still a blow to the thinnest unit in the organization.

Phillies outfielders posted a .663 OPS prior to Wednesday. That ranked 25th in baseball. Ryne Sandberg again started Domonic Brown and Ben Revere, both of whom rank near the bottom in production among outfielders, because the manager has few viable alternatives.

And, if one of the current outfielders succumbs to an injury, there are no replacements. Sandberg, when asked who was next on the depth chart, could not answer. "Um," he said, "I don't know off hand."

The intention was for Ruf to spend 10 days at triple-A Lehigh Valley to accumulate at bats. He chased a fly ball into foul territory Tuesday and slid into the wall. He was diagnosed with a sprained left wrist and bruised right knee. There is no timetable for his return.

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"The timing wasn't ideal at all because, hopefully, Ruf was on his way coming back after some at bats down there," Sandberg said. "That's a tough break for everybody."

The IronPigs started Cameron Perkins, Leandro Castro and Steve Susdorf in their outfield Wednesday. Perkins, 23, was promoted Tuesday to triple A. The former sixth-round pick batted .342 at double-A Reading with an Eastern League-leading 19 doubles. Castro and Susdorf were signed as minor-league free agents for organizational depth.

There are four minor-league outfielders on the Phillies' 40-man roster. None are close to the majors. Both Kelly Dugan and Zach Collier are injured. Collier has not impressed with his bat; Dugan cannot stay on the field. Tyson Gillies, 25, has a .585 OPS at Lehigh Valley. Aaron Altherr has hit even worse at Reading - a hitter's park - with a .541 OPS.

That lack of depth forced the Phillies to retain John Mayberry Jr. His bench mate, Tony Gwynn Jr., has two extra-base hits in 94 plate appearances.

Martin returns

Ethan Martin returned Tuesday because of a need, not because his shoulder has totally recovered from inflammation in the spring. There is no pain for the 24-year-old righthander, but his fastball velocity has yet to rebound.

"It's gotten better every outing," Martin said. "They said it is going to take a little bit of time."

Martin's average fastball velocity was 95 m.p.h., according to PITCHf/x data, in his final relief appearance last September. It averaged 93 m.p.h. during two scoreless innings Tuesday. Washington hitters swung and missed at three of Martin's 32 pitches.

"Looks to me like there is still a little bit of build up with some reps and innings," Sandberg said. "I see that increasing."

Extra bases

Cliff Lee (elbow) was not cleared to throw a baseball. He has not done that since April 19. . . . Lefthander Jeremy Horst cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to triple-A Lehigh Valley. He was designated for assignment last week.

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

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