PHILADELPHIA -- It appears the Philadelphia Phillies may utilize a platoon situation at first base moving forward, even if manager Ryne Sandberg wouldn't call it that.
With Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner on the mound Wednesday, right-handed hitting Darin Ruf got the start at first. Ruf, who was called up from Triple A on Tuesday, went 0-for-2 in Philadelphia's 3-0 loss. Ryan Howard, who hits left-handed, rode the pine.
Given Howard's splits against lefties -- the former MVP has struck out 40 times in 91 at-bats and is batting just .209/.275/.407 -- the move should come as no surprise and is probably overdue.
"I've seen him for 100 games -- I know what he can do," Sandberg said before Wednesday's game. "I think it's important to see what a guy like Darin Ruf can do also. Ryan continues to search for a comfort level at home plate."
Even in his career, Howard has hit just .223 against lefties. Ruf's average is .363 against lefty pitching in the minor leagues. Ruf also showed promise last season, when he hit .247/.348/.458 with 14 homers and 30 RBIs in 251 at-bats. Those numbers were right on par with Howard's -- .266/.319/.465, 11 homers, 43 RBIs in 286 at-bats -- in fewer opportunities.
The difference is the Phillies have $60 million committed to Howard over the next three seasons, while the 27-year-old Ruf is bring in about $500,000. Sandberg, however, claims that doesn't matter.
"It's also about wins and losses," Sandberg said. "Doing something to help win a game. If that means playing somebody else there, and there's production right away -- that's trying to win a baseball game."
If Sandberg sticks to his word, then Ruf should be at first base at lot more in the foreseeable future. Howard's .221 slugging percentage in the cleanup spot the last 25 games certainly hasn't helped the Phillies win ballgames.
STREAK: Lost four
NEXT: Giants (RHP Tim Hudson, 8-6, 2.78 ERA) at Phillies (LHP Cole Hamels, 4-5, 2.83 ERA)
--C Carlos Ruiz was activated from the 15-day DL prior to Wednesday after sitting out since June 26 with a concussion. Ruiz roped a double off the left-center field wall in his first at-bat and was 2-for-4 in the Phils' 3-0 loss. "It'll be nice to have his presence back there behind the plate as a veteran guy, and obviously he knows the pitchers," manager Ryne Sandberg said before the game. Despite hitting just .261/.365/.363 this season, Ruiz's bat was sorely missed in the Phillies' lineup during his absence. Their other three catchers combined for just 11 doubles, one homer and 11 RBIs in 42 games.
--C Cameron Rupp was optioned to Lehigh Valley prior to Wednesday's game to make room for C Carlos Ruiz, who was activated from the disabled list. Rupp caught all 14 innings of Philadelphia's 9-6 loss to the Giants on Tuesday. "Rupp did a nice job while he was here," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Showed his ability to throw and to block, so he'll go to Lehigh Valley and catch there and just hone his skills." The 25-year-old hit .190 with four doubles and six RBIs in 17 games for Philadelphia and has shown he's an average hitter at best at the minor league level.
--RHP Phillippe Aumont was recalled from Triple A prior to Wednesday's game against the Giants. Frankly, the Phillies just needed a fresh arm after Tuesday's 14-inning marathon and Aumont happened to be the next in line. The 6-foot-7 righty has never capitalized on his loads of potential -- he was a centerpiece of the Mariners' trade for Cliff Lee prior to the 2010 season -- because he can't throw strikes. Despite a 3.86 ERA at Triple A, Aumont walked 30 in 44 1/3 innings and struck out 53. In 42 games in the majors, Aumont owns a 4.79 ERA and 6.1 walks-per-nine rating.
--RHP Jeff Manship was designated for assignment Wednesday one day after giving up four runs and taking the loss in the Phillies' 14-inning marathon loss to the Giants. Manship, 29, has been a fringe major-leaguer for parts of the past six seasons. His 6.65 ERA in 20 games with Philadelphia this year was right in line with his 6.42 ERA in the prior five seasons combined. "Hopefully he chooses to stay with the organization," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He did show some good stuff -- he made the team out of spring training with a very good spring."
--RHP A.J. Burnett threw a season-high 131 pitches in tossing eight scoreless innings for a no-decision in the Phillies' 3-0 loss to the Giants on Wednesday. The 37-year-old allowed just four hits, struck out six and walked four. The 131 pitches were the most he threw in a game since 2002 against the Montreal Expos when he was with the Florida Marlins. If Burnett is on the trade market, as he's rumored to be, Wednesday was a nice audition.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Burnett was outstanding. He felt strong right to the end." -- Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg on RHP A.J. Burnett, who threw a season-high 131 pitches in tossing eight scoreless innings for a no-decision in the Phillies' 3-0 loss to the Giants on Wednesday.
--OF John Mayberry Jr. (left wrist inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 21.
--RHP Mike Adams (right rotator cuff inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 2. An MRI revealed fraying of the labrum but no rotator cuff damage. He got a cortisone shot in mid-June.
LHP Cole Hamels
RHP A.J. Burnett
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Kyle Kendrick
RHP Roberto Hernandez
RHP Jonathan Papelbon (closer)
LHP Antonio Bastardo
LHP Jake Diekman
LHP Mario Hollands
RHP Justin De Fratus
RHP Ken Giles
RHP Phillippe Aumont
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Cory Asche
INF Andres Blanco
INF Reid Brignac
LF Grady Sizemore
CF Ben Revere
RF Marlon Byrd
OF Domonic Brown
OF/INF Darin Ruf
- Sports & Recreation
- Ryne Sandberg
- Darin Ruf
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Carlos Ruiz
- Ryan Howard