The Phillies summoned Darin Ruf to the manager's office June 1. He was being optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley because a taxed bullpen required another arm. Go to the minors for the mandatory 10 days, the Phillies told him, and come back primed for more playing time.
Ruf returned Tuesday, 51 days after his demotion. He crashed into a wall at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown in the first inning of his first minor-league game June 2. He fractured his left wrist and cut his right knee.
"It's definitely been a mentally challenging season for me," Ruf said. "That's been the toughest thing - trying to stay positive through all the injuries. It's the first time I've ever had to deal with injuries, so hopefully it's the last time I have to."
An injury to John Mayberry Jr. provided the latest opportunity for Ruf. Mayberry was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left-wrist inflammation. Mayberry, a fringe trade candidate, cannot be dealt while he is on the DL.
Ruf pinch-hit in the seventh inning Tuesday and grounded out to short. He may get another chance Wednesday, when San Francisco starts lefthander Madison Bumgarner. Ruf, 27, played both left field and first base during his minor-league stint.
Power can be slow to return following a wrist injury. Ruf was 6 for 12 with three doubles in his last three games at triple-A Lehigh Valley; he mustered one extra-base hit in 16 games before that.
"His timing has been much better," manager Ryne Sandberg said.
"It seems like the more I swing the bat the more it is loosened up," Ruf said. "When I didn't swing for about a month or so again, the bat speed needs to return, too."
Trades could free more at-bats for Ruf. Sandberg has not hidden his desire to see new players in his lineup; Ruf is one who can seize that opportunity.
"There's two months left, and two months is all that I've got," Ruf said. "So I have to try and make the most of it."
Antonio Bastardo wrapped his left forearm Tuesday afternoon, the by-product of being struck by a Pablo Sandoval liner Monday night. "A little sore," Bastardo said, but he played catch without issue.
There may not be a Phillies player more coveted right now than Bastardo, who offers cheap and effective lefthanded relief. He has not allowed a run in eight July appearances, holding opponents to two hits and two walks in 62/3 innings.
He is a walking trade rumor.
"I'm not paying attention at all because I don't want to be distracted," Bastardo said.
Bastardo is his own worst enemy; opponents have hit .182 against him since 2011, the sixth-lowest batting average among all relievers. But, at times, walks have undone him.
"He's very durable," Sandberg said. "He's resilient, and he likes the ball; that's huge. We've had a couple times when we've been short and he's been the choice guy just because of the way he bounces back."
The Phillies will open the 2015 season April 6 at Citizens Bank Park against the Red Sox, according to an ESPNBoston.com report. The two teams did not play this season, the first time since 2007 they did not meet.
The schedule also calls for a September road series in Boston.
The National League East is paired with the American League East for next season's interleague matchups.
Veteran righthander Jason Marquis was placed on the triple-A disabled list with a strained right oblique. Marquis, returning from Tommy John surgery, has a 1.84 ERA in five minor-league starts. He can ask for his release July 31, although this injury could keep him in the system. . . . Grady Sizemore, who has undergone seven surgeries since 2009, started for the eighth time in eight games.
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