Throughout the off-season, I have checked in with various players from around the Phillies organization to gauge their thoughts on fall/winter leagues they’ve played in and what their outlooks are going forward. Recently, I spoke with outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf, who mashed 38 home runs and drove in 104 runs for Double-A Reading before making his major league debut with the big league Phils in September, when he batted .333 and added another three homers in 12 games.
A 20th round draft selection out of Creighton University in 2009, the righty hitting Ruf played for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, posting a .258 batting average with 10 home runs and 27 RBI in 32 games. Ruf’s long year of baseball, that began with spring training, ended the week of Thanksgiving Day, so the 26-year-old could rest up for next season, when he is expected to compete for an opening day roster spot with the Phillies.
Read ahead to check out what the man they call “Babe Ruf” had to say about his time in Venezuela, his tweetless Twitter account and his thoughts on 2013.
-Congratulations on a tremendous 2012. What are your thoughts on being able to keep your hugely successful year rolling into that off-season league in Venezuela?
I just had to keep doing the same things I had been doing all year. Try to keep things simple. Baseball is a difficult game and the more you can simplify it the more success you will allow yourself to have.
-How would you rate the competition in Venezuela?
It was very good competition. There are many talented players down there and a lot of solid pitching. There is a nice range of young players, playing with all their tools, who might not yet be as refined as well as older players who are smart and know how to play the game.
-I know you had some Phillies teammates with you there, playing for the Tiburones. How did you guys help one another adjust to the different culture in Venezuela? Was there any help provided by native players you know, like Freddy Galvis, on other teams?
It was nice having familiar faces down there and the fact that a couple of them went last year helped first time guys like myself and (Michael) Cisco. The native players are very friendly and do whatever they can do to help us out. They know how difficult the adjustment is from playing in the States for so many years, they help us anyway they can.
-I imagine a lot of guys would really welcome the opportunity to play abroad like you did. How do you view that whole experience?
It was a good experience for me as a person and a baseball player. I realize how fortunate I was to have that opportunity and I tried to take advantage of it as much as I could. It is a grind for the import players physically and mentally because of the adjustments we had to make to the different culture.
-You’ve had an account on Twitter for several months, but have yet to post any comments. Will you ever tweet?
No, probably not. I am not really into the whole social networking thing. I just like Twitter to get news quickly and to follow some of my teammates.
-I am sure it’s time for rest now, but how much are you looking forward to spring training and what are your goals for 2013?
I am really looking forward to spring training and hope I can just build upon where I left off last season. I just want to be able to help whichever team I find myself playing for and I am going to approach this off-season like any other.