While the Phillies’ spring opener resulted in a tie, two former members of their organization — Gabe Kapler and Darin Ruf — lost theirs on Saturday.
While the Philadelphia Phillies played to an 8-8 tie in their spring opener on Saturday, two former members of their organization likewise were not able to kick off the exhibition slate with a victory: former manager Gabe Kapler and 1B/OF Darin Ruf of the San Francisco Giants.
Kapler managed the Phillies to a 6-0 win over the University of Tampa Spartans in his managerial debut, exactly two years prior, but was not as successful in his first game with the Giants, with his team losing 10-4 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona.
In fact, the Giants had just one hit entering the bottom of the fifth inning and trailed 6-1. Kapler used 10 pitchers and 18 position players in the defeat. Phillies manager Joe Girardi used one less pitcher and as many position players.
Ruf, 33, started as the designated hitter and batted ninth; he went 0-for-2, grounding out in both of his plate appearances. The Giants signed Ruf last month to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training after he spent the last three seasons playing for the Korean Baseball League’s Samsung Lions. There, he posted a combined .965 OPS and 86 home runs.
“I think the biggest challenge is in trusting yourself, so when you come back here, the good work that you did over there will translate,” Kapler recently told reporters regarding the former Phillies and now-Giants minor-league outfielder. “Ruf was exceptionally productive in Korea, and understanding that that very good offensive profile works well here as well is probably the confidence that is necessary for him to bring to the table.”
In his five seasons with the Phillies from 2012 to 2016, Ruf slashed .240/.314/.433 with 35 doubles, 35 home runs and 96 RBI spanning 286 games and 833 plate appearances.
For what it’s worth, the Giants have a 25-year-old infield prospect named Ryan Howard who homered in the contest. He has a ways to go to live up to the “Big Piece.”