Darin Ruf feeling at home in second Major League camp

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Darin Ruf replaced Ryan Howard at first base in the seventh inning Tuesday at Champion Stadium.

Ruf never had an opportunity to hit, but he has nonetheless made his mark early this spring, hitting .280 (7-for-25) with two home runs and six RBIs in 12 Grapefruit League games. He has a .400 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage.

"He's taking advantage of his opportunities," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Everyone has had a chance to play. No one can say they haven't had a chance to play. When he's been asked to play -- whether it be left field or first base -- he has taken advantage of that. He's put together quality at-bats and has done a good job in the field. Everyone has had the opportunity."

The Phillies are hitting just .186 this spring, so a strong exhibition season from Ruf could put him on the 25-man roster.

"That can put him right in the lineup for me," Sandberg said. "I mean, he's trying to get in the lineup Opening Day. There is something to that. Now, once again, looking at the at-bats and swings for the last 10 days of Spring Training, and he's one of the hot bats? He would be a guy I want in there for me. For a guy who is looking to be on the team and win a job, he's gone about it the right way, starting in the offseason and coming in with a nice approach. He's in shape, game ready. He's looked good."

Ruf is competing for one of potentially three available bench jobs. Catcher Wil Nieves and infielder Freddy Galvis appear to be locks for two spots. Kevin Frandsen has an inside track on a job as a utility infielder, as he has a guaranteed $900,000 contract. John Mayberry Jr. has a guaranteed $1.6 million contract, although the Phillies have been trying to trade the outfielder for some time. Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr. are candidates to play in the outfield.

If Abreu makes the team as a corner outfielder, it could affect Ruf, who has options remaining.

Buchanan making pitch for potential rotation spot

David Buchanan has a 1.50 ERA through six innings this spring.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Cole Hamels misses the first month of the season, the Phillies will need somebody to be their fifth starter.

Jeff Manship and David Buchanan appear to be the top two internal candidates through Tuesday's 9-1 loss to the Braves in a Grapefruit League game at Champion Stadium. Manship has a 1.29 ERA through seven innings, having allowed four hits and one run. Buchanan has a 1.50 ERA through six innings, on three hits and one run.

"Long season as far as pitching goes," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Buchanan. "So he's doing a nice job for himself. He's one of the lone bright spots today."

Buchanan allowed one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings against a Braves lineup that included every regular other than Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis.

"I grew up watching these guys, and in the past couple years too," said Buchanan, who was born and raised in Georgia. "They have an outstanding lineup. I knew it was going to be a fun time when I went out there."

These early spring performances should have Buchanan feeling a little more confident about his abilities to succeed against big league hitters.

"Coming up, Cliff Lee and all of those guys who came over to the Minor League side always said, 'The biggest thing in pitching is confidence,'" Buchanan said. "That's something you have to have. I've been trying to build that within myself. I asked Cliff, 'How do you have the confidence that you have?' And he just said, 'It's something you have to believe in.'

"So I always believe I can get any hitter out. But at the same time, I know there are good hitters I'm going to have to battle and earn it. That's where most of my work ethic comes from. That's one thing Roy Halladay said, he said he knew every time he went out there, he worked so hard that he had no doubts. He knew everything he did before the start, that he did everything he could do to prepare. So if you can do all you can do, that's all you can ask from yourself."

Other internal candidates are either injured or don't appear ready for prime time. That list includes Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (hasn't pitched in two years), Jonathan Pettibone (right shoulder) and Ethan Martin (right shoulder).

Phils open spot on roster by outrighting Stutes

PHI@FLA: Stutes fans four over two scoreless frames

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Phillies have a host of non-roster invitees who have a chance to make the Opening Day roster.

The list includes outfielders Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr. and right-handers Shawn Camp, Jeff Manship and David Buchanan.

Those possibilities and others are why the Phillies announced Tuesday they have outrighted right-hander Michael Stutes from the 40-man roster. More moves like this could be coming before Opening Day on March 31 in Texas.

The move gives the Phillies 39 players on the 40-man.

Stutes, who cleared waivers, is in Minor League camp. He has battled shoulder injuries the past two seasons. His fastball averaged 93 mph in 2011, but it was hitting just 88-89 mph this spring.

"It was based on what we've seen this spring and the last couple of months last season," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "And we have guys in camp that we're looking at for the rotation, the bullpen and the bench. This just opens up a spot for us."

The Phillies also could add from outside the organization, although internal options seems more likely at this point.

Dubee reflects fondly on time with Phillies

Rich Dubee served as the Phils' pitching coach from 2005-13.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A short walk beyond center field at Champion Stadium, on a side field at the Braves baseball complex, Rich Dubee surveyed the action in front of him.

He looked out of place in his white Braves uniform.

Dubee wore red pinstripes with the Phillies from 2005-13, when he was their pitching coach. But this is his new home since the Phillies declined to bring him back following last season. The Braves hired Dubee as their Minor League pitching coordinator.

"My time was great there," Dubee said before the Phillies and Braves played a Grapefruit League game on Tuesday. "To be part of probably the best baseball era there, I'm very, very lucky. I have so many great memories. Grabbing Jamie Moyer and hugging Jamie [following Game 5 of the 2008 World Series]. Here is a guy who played 20-something years and finally won a World Series. Looking at Doc [Roy Halladay pitching his first playoff game ever and throwing a no-hitter. Cole Hamels, the way he emerged in the '08 playoffs. [Brad] Lidge being perfect [in 2008]. [J.C.] Romero getting released twice then playing such a big role in our bullpen. Working with guys like Clay Condrey. He was up and down five times [in 2007]. He was a vital piece of our bullpen, an unsung hero.

"Throwing BP to a guy like Chase Utley, seeing the way he works. Last year in Spring Training, after a game he'd hit for about 53 minutes. Just the character of the guy. You appreciate what he puts into the game so much. Chooch's emergence as really a frontline catcher. KK [Kyle Kendrick] deserves credit. He took it and ran with it."

Dubee has spoken with Charlie Manuel a few times since his dismissal. He has heard from Halladay and Hamels while also reflecting a bit on what everybody accomplished during that run -- which included five National League East championships, two NL pennants and one World Series title.

"As good as our run was when you're in the middle of it, you really don't get to fully enjoy it," Dubee said. "You win one game, you get ready for tomorrow. You win at the end of the year, you get ready for Spring Training. That tag of being a division champion and going to the World Series, those are hard tags. You're always trying to push the envelope."

Worth noting

• The Phillies' offense continues to struggle through 14 Grapefruit League games, hitting just .186. The Phillies (2-10-2) picked up just two hits in Tuesday's 9-1 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium. Kevin Frandsen broke up a no-hitter with a single against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in the seventh, marking the fifth time in the last seven games Philadelphia has been no-hit through at least three innings.

"In some regards, it's not that concerning," Sandberg said of his starters' early-inning struggles. "In other regards, as far as Spring Training games, it sets a tough tone for the rest of the game. I don't remember the last time that we've scored in the first three or four innings."