Ruf, Abreu impressive as Phillies tie Braves

Darin Ruf has a lot to prove in spring training as the young power-hitter is looking to earn a place on the Phillies bench. Credit: Getty Images Darin Ruf has a lot to prove in spring training as the young power-hitter is looking to earn a place on the Phillies bench. Credit: Getty Images

It took a minute for Darin Ruf to shake off the effects of being struck in the back of the head. Braves centerfielder Jordan Schafer uncorked a throw, which struck Ruf in the helmet as he slid into third base.

But the young, enigmatic power hitter, stayed in the game and is alright. However, Ruf, who struggled last season against left-handed pitching and with runners in scoring position, has been better than alright so far this spring. Ruf, who was 1-4, during the Phillies 2-2 tie with the Braves, has hit the ball hard and played a solid outfield.

“I’ve been working on this now for a year and I think I’m playing decent out there,” Ruf said. “Today is just the second start I’ve had out there this (Grapefruit) season. It’s good. I’m working on my outfield play and working on playing first base.”

Ruf, who should make the team as a backup-outfielder/first baseman, is charging the ball and throwing with authority. He’s also been more aggressive at the plate.

“I’m doing all that I can to make the team,” Ruf said. “I want to have the best spring I can and help this team as much as possible.”

Starters rest against Atlanta

Only three Phillies, who figure to be regulars started against Atlanta. Watching Bobby Abreu start in right and bat cleanup was like flashing back to 2006. If Abreu, who gunned a Brave down at the plate and singled to left, continues to hit and reach base like he has so far, expect him to be a lock as a left-handed bat off the bench once the team leaves for Texas to start the season in late March.

“It’s been so much fun coming back here,” Abreu said with his familiar smile. “I’m loving every minute of this.”

Phillies honor Fregosi

Prior to the game, the Phillies and Braves paid tribute to the late Jim Fregosi. The manager of the Phillies pennant winning 1993 team was the assistant to the general manager in Atlanta. A number of his former players sported retro jerseys from when they shared a dugout with Fregosi. Former Phillies Darren Daulton and Kent Tekulve and the White Sox Greg Walker were among those, who joined the Fregosi family for a video tribute to the revered baseball lifer.

“There was no one like Jim,” Tekulve said. “It was a huge loss for baseball. He knew baseball as well as anyone. He was a great manager and above all a great guy. The thing about Jim was you would know he was in the room before you entered it because he was so loud and boisterous. He would just light up the room. The thing about Jim Fregosi was that if you couldn’t get along with Jim, you couldn’t get along with anybody.”

Lee to work on curveball

Cliff Lee was sharp over three innings Tuesday night against the Blue Jays. Lee, who gave up a run and three hits, had excellent command of his fastball and changeup but had some issues with his curveball.

“The curve is always the last pitch to come for me,” Lee said. “But I’m exactly where I want to be at this point. I feel really good. I’m just trying to take it one step at a time. I’m stretching out from two to three to four innings. I’m getting there.”

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