AND NOW, another episode of "Who's That Phillies Player?!?"
In his last 96 games (entering last night), Player A has hit .248 with a .353 on-base percentage, .812 OPS, 16 home runs, 34 RBI, 104 strikeouts and 39 walks.
In Player B's last 96 games, he has hit .212 with a .294 OBP, a .642 OPS, 13 home runs, 63 RBI, 115 strikeouts and 40 walks.
Player C has hit .220 with a .271 OBP, .607 OPS, six home runs, 44 RBI, 63 strikeouts and 23 walks in his last 96 games.
And Player D's production in his last 96 games: .265, .320 OBP, .797 OPS, 19 home runs, 51 RBI, 114 strikeouts and 26 walks.
Player B is Ryan Howard, Player C is Domonic Brown and Player D is Marlon Byrd, all of whom had more regular playing time than Player A, Darin Ruf. Ruf, who has played in 96 big-league games in the last two seasons, has arguably been more productive than all three.
While PlayersB through D were in the lineup last night, Ruf sat against Seattle, despite going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in Monday's 4-1 win. Ruf entered the day 7-for-12 with two doubles, a home run, two walks, a hit by pitch and three strikeouts in his last four starts.
"This guy tonight, [Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma], righthanders are hitting [.196] for the year," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "This guy is awful tough on righthanded bats. Darin is working on some things. With the team right now, that's strong on the lefthanded-hitting side, it's important for him to be a threat and constant pop facing lefthanded pitching. So he's progressing very well."
Sandberg's words yesterday echoed what he had said 4 days earlier, that he wants Ruf to get an extended look against lefthanded pitchers. Sandberg said Ruf had the potential to be a "big bat against a lefthanded pitcher. That's a spot on the team. A pinch-hitter like that."
Despite decent overall numbers as a regular in the second half of last year - .806 OPS, 14 home runs in 73 games - Ruf hit just .188 with a .656 OPS in 81 plate appearances against lefties during that extended playing time in 2013. And so the Phillies want to see him improve in that area.
But does that mean his ceiling is to be a platoon player at the big-league level?
"That's all part of the evaluation right now," Sandberg said. "That's hard to say. With the team now, with the way it has the lefthanded bats in the lineup, going forward I think a bat like his from the right side really doing well and dominating lefthanded pitching is a good start for him. Whether that can be expanded on has yet to be seen."
On Friday, Sandberg said the team's current modus operandi is to give everybody - Ruf, Brown, Howard, Byrd, Grady Sizemore, etc. - playing time. He believes they all could be in play for his 2015 team.
"It's still a scenario of trying to see everybody play, whether it's for other teams to see them, whether it's for us to continue to look at them, whatever it might be," Sandberg said. "It's a challenge day to day."
An educated guess: Ruf starts at first base today for Howard in a day game after a night game against a lefthander (James Paxton.). Howard has started 17 consecutive games (and 22 out of 23 since his three-game benching last month).
How much Ruf plays this week is a fair question, however, since the Phillies are scheduled to face three righthanders when the St. Louis Cardinals follow the Mariners into town this weekend, beginning Friday.
Carlos Ruiz was slotted in the seventh spot of last night's lineup after going 0-for-2 with three walks while hitting second on Monday. Ruiz is hitting .269 with an .840 OPS in 20 games from the No.2 spot in the order this year. He hit second on Monday since Jimmy Rollins was given the night off. Since the beginning of 2010, Ruiz' .372 OBP is tied for 15th in baseball with Buster Posey (minimum 2,000 plate appearances)...Cole Hamels (6-6, 2.44 ERA) faces James Paxton (3-0, 2.20) this afternoon. Hamels has a 1.60 ERA (19 earned runs in 1062/3 innings)in 15 starts since June 1...The Phils entered play yesterday 5-10 (.333) against AL foes in 2014, baseball's second-worst interleague winning percentage (Houston, 2-13, .235).