MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Phillies outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf has been diagnosed with a Grade 1/2 left oblique strain and will be out four to six weeks as a result. Ruf suffered the injury taking a swing during batting practice.
Ruf was competing for a roster spot as a back-up outfielder and first baseman. However, he wasn’t having a great spring, slashing .217/.308/.391 in 46 Grapefruit League at-bats. There was a chance he was going to start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley so that he could get regular playing time, but that is now an issue the Phillies won’t have to deal with until May, it appears. In Ruf’s absence, the Phillies could choose to add non-roster invitees Bobby Abreu and/or Tony Gwynn, Jr.
Ruf impressed in his first lengthy stint in the Majors last season, posting an .806 OPS with 14 home runs in 251 trips to the plate. Unfortunately, he is roadblocked at first base by Ryan Howard and in both outfield corners by Domonic Brown and Marlon Byrd.
Veteran reliever Fernando Rodney has been designated for assignment, the Athletics announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the club selected the contract of lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Rodney, 42, struggled to find his footing at the start of his second season with the A’s. He appeared in 17 games this spring, but harbored an unsightly 9.42 ERA during the span of just 14 1/3 innings, flanked by an equally disheartening 7.5 BB/9 against his 8.8 SO/9. While the right-hander isn’t far removed from his last productive campaign in the majors — as evidenced by the cumulative 3.36 ERA and 25 saves he delivered for the Twins and A’s in 2018 — the club evidently felt ready to take things in a different direction this season.
It’s still unclear whether this will mark the end of Rodney’s time in Major League Baseball; if so, he’ll finish a 17-year track in the majors with three All-Star designations, 908 career strikeouts, and 325 career saves (best among all active pitchers and 18th-best overall).
Without Rodney, the Athletics will look to former Brewers reliever Wang to bolster a bullpen that currently ranks fifth-best in the American League. The 27-year-old lefty hasn’t stepped on a major-league mound since 2017, but recently impressed in Triple-A after inking a minors contract with the team in February. He holds a 3.75 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and 8.3 SO/9 through his first 24 innings with the organization.