1/23/2014 5:18 P.M. ET
Ruf looking to find his role with Phillies
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies senior VP and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke candidly about Darin Ruf's future with the club in September.
"I think he can fill in for us," Amaro said, "but I can't sit here and tell you that he's an everyday player for us. He's going to have to fight for a job in some way, shape or form.
"Can he add some depth to our bench, to our club overall? Can he play a little left, can he play a little right, can he play a little first and give [Ryan] Howard a blow? He can become valuable in that regard. But I don't know if he's an everyday player yet."
Ruf's chances as an everyday player in 2014 were sealed when the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million contract early in the offseason. Ruf could open the year on the Phils' bench, but with John Mayberry Jr. and Bobby Abreu also in camp, that remains to be seen.
"I don't care how I fit in, as long as I fit in," Ruf said Thursday. "Whether you're penciled in to be a starter that day, if your role is to have a good at-bat late in the game, it's just important to do everything you can to be a part of that. That's what I'm doing right now.
"I hadn't played right field until last year. I think it was a pretty honest statement [from Amaro]. I was a kind of a temporary solution last year in right field, but it was a good experience for me, because I got to learn how to play that position."
Byrd understands skepticism of Phils' newcomers
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies traded Marlon Byrd to the Nationals in 2005, but he made Philadelphia his home from '07-10.
Byrd knows Phillies fans well. He has heard how fans are underwhelmed at the Phils' offseason acquisitions, which not only include himself, but right-handers Roberto Hernandez and Brad Lincoln, catcher Wil Nieves and outfielder Bobby Abreu.
Byrd takes no offense.
"If I was a fan, I think I'd rather have Robinson Cano. I think I'd rather have [Masahiro] Tanaka," Byrd said with a smile Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "I want those guys. [Phillies senior VP and general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] went with the guys he thought would help this team.
"And until we get on the field and actually get to show it, the fan base will kind of be looking at this team like, 'Hey, two years of trying to get back to the Promised Land, we need 10 Robinson Canos in this lineup and a whole staff of Tanakas.' I think they'll be happy once we get on the field and we start producing."
Byrd hit a combined .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs last season with the Mets and Pirates. Fans normally might be enthused at the thought of somebody like that hitting behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But following a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in 2012, some wonder if Byrd can replicate those numbers at 36.
Those skeptics wonder how real those numbers are.
Once again, Byrd takes no offense.
"Everything [from] last year until I retire will be looked at that way, because I did test positive," he said. "The guys that don't like talking about it are the ones that were trying to cheat or trying to beat the system. I wasn't. I was stupid. I took something. I didn't do my due diligence. It's as simple as that, so it's easy for me to talk about it because I have nothing to hide."
Byrd said he is excited to rejoin the organization, which selected him in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. He has remained close to Howard and Jimmy Rollins, both of whom served as groomsmen at his wedding.
"I was so excited when they were making their run, going through the playoffs," Byrd said. "I was coming to games. I was waving my towel like a fan and everything. I absolutely loved it."
Byrd shared a story about how he texted Rollins during the 2008 World Series to tell him how Rays pitcher Matt Garza tipped his pitches. Coincidentally or not, Rollins went 2-for-3 with a run scored against Garza in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, which the Phillies won, 5-4.
"I felt like a scout," Byrd said.
Adams hopes to be back by Opening Day
PHILADELPHIA -- A key factor in any potential success for the Phillies this season will be setup man Mike Adams.
The Phils thought Adams would be a valuable piece last season, too, but the veteran struggled until he had right shoulder surgery July 31. His workouts following surgery led to sports hernia surgery in the offseason.
Adams also had doubts he would return to the mound because of lingering pain in the shoulder. But he said Thursday that the last couple months have been nearly perfect, and he sees no reason why he cannot be ready to pitch by Opening Day.
"I don't see any reason why I wouldn't," Adams said.
Of course, January is a time for optimism.
Adams will not start throwing off a mound until the middle of February -- a month later than normal -- although he believes he needs only about 10 appearances this spring to be ready by Opening Day. But Adams also said he won't rush himself, either. He doesn't want to end up back on the disabled list.
"If it's April 15 or May 1, so be it," Adams said.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.