On his last game as a BlueClaw, May 12th, Darin Ruf went 5-5 in Greenville and was promoted to Clearwater right after the game. He finished the season with the Threshers and we spoke to Ruf for a few minutes earlier as he gets ready for the 2011 season.
5-5 isn’t that bad of a way to go out?
That was an awesome way to go out. To go 5-5, you’re already pumped up, and then to get called in the manager’s office and promoted that night, it was probably the most special day of my career so far.
How as Clearwater different for you than Lakewood was?
It was a little bit different, but not a whole lot. It was more the culture and atmosphere I guess. The trips aren’t as far, so you’re a little more rested for each game. The crowds aren’t as big. You really have to find your inner drive, and you can’t get carried by the atmosphere like you can in Lakewood. It was certainly a little bit of a jump talent-wise, but the atmosphere and the culture was a bit different too.
What did you learn as a player?
It showed me I needed to focus on as a hitter, but I also know that you can’t strictly focus on your weaknesses. Sometimes if you do that, you forget about playing to your strengths. Ultimately, you have to hit the ball when it’s in the zone. If you’re too busy focusing on some weakness that you have, you won’t hit that well.
For me, I did go into a slump and KJ (hitting coach Kevin Jordan) pointed out exactly what I was doing wrong. I was too focused on the inside pitch and ignored the outer half and driving the ball to right-center, which is my strength.
Goals for 2011?
I would love to play in Clearwater again, but hopefully I get a shot in Double-A this year. That would be my ultimate goal, but of course I know nothing is going to be handed to me. I’ll have to prove in the spring that I belong there, and if I do get the chance, I want to be ready to take advantage of it.
What have you been doing in the off-season?
I got a little part time job doing some customer service that keeps me busy, and I get the baseball stuff in during the morning or after work. Taking some swings, things of that nature. It’s worked out perfect for me.
It’s cold in Nebraska, so all of your work has to be inside, correct?
Yes, but we do get to face some live pitching, at a place called UBA. It’s been up for a few years, it’s real nice, huge indoor baseball facility. We have some guys from Omaha like Pat Venditte, who throws with both arms, he throws live every other day.
Does he switch it up on you mid-AB in a live BP session?
He does, definitely (laughing). It’s all good, it’s fun, just getting some work in.
Ruf, a 20th round pick in 2009 out of Creighton, hit .330-4-17 in 32 games with the BlueClaws. He was sent to Clearwater (.277-5-50 in 97 games) on the day Jonathan Singleton was promoted to Lakewood and Matt Rizzotti was sent from Clearwater to Reading.