Boy, Darin Ruf’s bat better be pretty awesome. Because Pat Burrell is looking like a former Gold Glover compared to the struggles the young slugger is having in left field so far this spring.
In yesterday’s 10-5 win over the Braves, Ruf had another error, again trying to field a base hit to left field.
Yesterday’s play was not an easy one, but it was a routine play that an experienced left fielder would have no trouble making.
But as everyone knows, Ruf is lacking in the experience department.
Atlanta shortstop Ramrio Pena hit a line drive right at Ruf in left field. The rookie had to decide whether to come in on the ball and try to catch it in the air, or back off and field the ball on a hop.
A left fielder who has seen this kind of ball hit to him hundreds of times during the course of his career would have no problem making that decision. But Ruf came in, realized too late he couldn’t make the play, peed his pants a little and allowed a routine single to bounce by him for a two-base error, giving the Braves a runner at third with no out.
That runner later came in to score.
No one is going to be too hard on Ruf at this point in spring training. That’s what these fake games are all about, getting the kid some experience out in left. And, he’ll have some leeway right now, especially if his bat starts to pick up.
“Darin is going to make some mistakes,” Charlie Manuel said after the game. “Hopefully he can just keep working and see how much he can improve before the end of the spring.”
If Ruf is going to make the big league club because, it’ll be because of his bat, not his glove. Everyone knows this. The Phils are hoping he can just play a passable left field and offer about as much defense as Burrell or Raul Ibanez gave them.
Yes, those two players were bad defensive players. So it’s not a high bar.
If Ruf hits, his offense would make up for his limited range, not-so-hot throwing arm, and lack of experience in the outfield.
And finally, on Thursday, Ruf finally got a few base hits, breaking an 0 for 10 start with an RBI single and an impressive double off the Majors’ best relief pitcher, Craig Kimbrel.
Still, the Phillies can’t afford to be giving away runs defensively. Not unless Ruf is going to hit about a million home runs or something this year.
And yes, that would be some kind of record.