Darin Ruf hits walk-off, then sent to AAA

Darin Ruf during Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. on Monday, February 11, 2013. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Darin Ruf will not be on the Phillies' Opening Day roster.

Less than a half hour after hitting a walk-off home run to lead the Phillies to a 7-6 win over the Braves, Ruf was called into the manager's office where he was told he was heading to minor league camp. Ruf will begin the 2013 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

"I need to get out there and play left field on a daily basis," Ruf said. 

Ruf, a natural first baseman, only began playing the position in August. But to be sent down after winning a game?

"It kind of caught me off guard a little," Ruf admitted. "But, you know, it's a part of the game. I've kind of compared myself to Junior (John Mayberry Jr.) and Brownie (Domonic Brown) a little bit. They've spent the better part of the last 2-3 years trying to improve in Triple-A and help the big league club as well. Hopefully I'll be able to do that at some point this year as well."

Amaro said it's all about getting Ruf more reps in left.

"I think he's geting better, I think he's improved and I think (being here) has been good for him," Amaro said. "But he's got some work to do to be an everyday left fielder in the big leagues."

The move was based strictly on defense.

"We think he's going to hit," Amaro said. "He can hit."

Ruf hit .246 with 2 home runs and 6 doubles in 19 games this spring. After a slow start, his bat came to life in the last two weeks: he had four extra-base hit in his last four games.

The Phillies also want Ruf to take reps and first base while at Triple-A so they have a viable backup in the event that Ryan Howard gets hurt this season. Ruf said he didn't take any reps at first base this spring since he was concentrating on improving in the outfield.