Darin Ruf hit his 40th home run of 2012 on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. But when he returned to the dugout after his first big-league home run, which was also his first major league hit, Ruf had no one to celebrate with.
The 26-year-old rookie was a victim of good, old-fashioned hazing. He didn’t receive a high five or fist bump from a Philadelphia Phillies teammate for several minutes.
“He said that made him feel bad when the bat boy blew him off,” manager Charlie Manuel said, laughing. “He figured he was a young guy, he’ll talk to me. He blew him off. Didn’t even look at him.”
“The longest silent treatment of all time,” Ruf said. “It’s probably for all the times I suggested we do it to someone in Double-A. I guess I had it coming to me.”
Ruf was eventually congratulated by his teammates, and he got the ball from the fan who fetched it. After hitting 39 home runs at Reading, Ruf made the most of his first big-league start by hitting a solo home run in his first at-bat of the Phillies’ 6-3 win over the Washington Nationals.
After Ruf was used sparingly in the first two weeks of his September call-up — he pinch hit three times in 14 games — Manuel said he would plug the power-hitting first baseman-turned-left fielder into the lineup Wednesday night.
“I like Ruf’s swing,” Manuel said. “He puts me into mind of Bob Horner. He’s got the same kind of a setup, the same stride of a Bob Horner, he’s got quickness in his bat. And he hits the ball to all fields. I like that.”
A 20th-round pick out of Creighton University in the 2009 draft, Ruf got on the Phillies’ radar this summer.
He hit .317 with an Eastern League-best 38 home runs and 104 RBI in 139 games at Double-A Reading. Ruf hit 20 home runs in August and hit another home run in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs earlier this month.
Since their own pursuit of a playoff spot is a pipe dream, the Phillies are playing the role of spoiler. Six of their final nine games come against the Nationals, who have the Atlanta Braves breathing down their necks in the National League East.
“I feel obligated to put (out) our best lineup,” Manuel said. “But at the same time I feel we can definitely play people like Ruf or somebody like that because I want to see him play and I don’t think it’s hurting our chances of winning, I don’t feel like.”
It surely didn’t hurt on Tuesday.