Struggling Mets DFA outfielder Darin Ruf – The Mercury News
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets have made a decision about struggling DH Darin Ruf, singling him out for assignment.
The 36-year-old right-handed hitter will not be included in the club’s opening day roster. Instead, the Mets will choose outfielder Tim Locastro, a quick base steal specialist. The Mets can take advantage of new rules that encourage more action on the base paths with Locastro. The Mets anticipate that an increase in speed will be a league-wide trend with larger bases and limited picks.
“We’re making a small bet on the stolen base item,” said general manager Billy Eppler. “I think stolen bases are going to go up more than they did in the minor leagues. I could really see the stolen base genre come into play here, and I think putting Locastro on the list kind of serves the functionality and strategy that we want to deploy.
Additionally, the Mets also moved right-hander Tylor Megill to Triple-A Syracuse, opting to use left-hander David Peterson in the rotation to start the season. The Mets opening day roster is now set.
Megill will start in the Triple-A opener on Friday and will try to stay on top of what the team is doing to be ready when called. Showalter has previously indicated that it could be as early as April when the Mets take a three-city trip to California with no days off.
Megill was trying to work with new pitches this season and has some control issues with his slider, but he also struggled with his fastball control.
“You launch new locations and you determine things in terms of exit points,” Megill said Monday at Clover Park. “I’m just working on that.”
Ruf was acquired at the trade deadline last season by the San Francisco Giants. The Mets sent four players, including third baseman JD Davis, to the Giants in exchange for Ruf, who was acquired for hitting the left-handed pitcher. But Ruf found the change of scenery difficult, and he found it particularly difficult to wrestle in New York. He hit just .152 with a .413 OPS and no homers with the Mets.
He arrived at camp with tendinitis in his wrist and received a cortisone injection, which dissipated the pain. Still, Ruf struggled to go 5-for-30 (.167) with two doubles, four walks and nine strikeouts in Grapefruit League play.
“It was hard for him to get his feet under him,” Eppler said. “In his first game here with us, I think he scored a brace, but then it started to snowball.”
Locastro had a good spring, hitting .289 with a .907 OPS, five doubles, a triple, a home run and six stolen bases on six attempts. A Syracuse native who spent time with the Yankees last summer, Locastro can create runs and force mistakes with his speed and basic running abilities. The Mets also like his defense in the outfield.
“It was 50-50 in my mind when I came in,” Locastro said of meeting Showalter and Eppler. “Fortunately, it worked out for me and I made the team.”
It’s hard to let go of a player who took so long to acquire, but the Mets seemingly admitted defeat with this trade. The Mets will now give batting DH to Daniel Vogelbach and outfielder Tommy Pham, who was signed in part for his ability to hit the left-handed pitcher.
“I feel bad for him as a person with the things he kind of went through,” Eppler said. “But I appreciate how he handled everything through it all. But just like last year, we’re going to make the best baseball decision we’re going to make. I talked to (owner Steve) Cohen about it and he was like, “Just make the decision to play baseball.”
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