PHI@WSH: Ruf drills a two-run shot to deep left

WASHINGTON -- When the Phillies designated right fielder Delmon Young for assignment on Friday, they also sent a clear message to Darin Ruf. For the last two months of this season, the starting right field job likely will be his.

Ruf was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in July when Ryan Howard went on the disabled list, and the Phillies want to use the final two months of this season to see whether the 27-year-old outfielder warrants a place in their long-term plans.

"He's going to get opportunities to play and playing time," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Friday. "He's got a chance to be a good young hitter for us and we've got to find out about Ruf and [third baseman Cody] Asche and as many young players as we can to find out whether they're going to be viable options for us now and for the future."

Ruf was one of the few bright spots in Saturday night's 8-5 loss to the Nationals as he smoked a two-run homer to left field in the second inning. He said after the game that the extra pressure with Young's departure hasn't affected him.

"I don't really think that way. I'm just trying to play as well as I can every single night," Ruf said. "Whatever happens, happens. If my role on the team next year is a little different than what it is right now, then I'll be accepting of that. If they're counting on me to step up and provide a bigger role on the team, then hopefully I can do that as well."

Manager Charlie Manuel said that he has never been worried about Ruf's bat, but he wanted to see Ruf grow more comfortable in the outfield. Ruf played first base in college and started his first Major League game in right field on Tuesday. He has since started four of the Phillies' past five games in right, including Saturday's game against the Nationals.

"It's going to be a process," Ruf said. "So far I've had some pretty routine balls that everyone should catch, haven't had to make any really difficult decisions or anything like that. ... Hopefully, as I get out there more, I'll see more difficult plays, plays that I might have to make tougher reads on because that's ultimately how you get better out there."

Ruf is hitting .289 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in 97 at-bats with the Phillies this season, but the team likely will put more stock in his play from this point forward. Many players never get a chance to prove themselves at the Major League level, but Ruf is getting that chance.

"This is a great opportunity for him," Manuel said.

Halladay tosses 75 pitches in sim game without issue

WSH@PHI: Phillies' broadcast on Doc's rehab progress

WASHINGTON -- Roy Halladay threw 75 pitches in a simulated game on Saturday morning, taking another step forward as he continues to recover from right shoulder surgery.

Halladay threw five innings, each consisting of 15 pitches, against Gulf Coast League competition at the team's complex in Clearwater, Fla. Pitching coach Rich Dubee saw video of the session and spoke with Halladay afterwards. He said that the right-hander "feels great" and will throw a bullpen session in Clearwater on Monday.

"It went well today," Dubee said. "Actually, his last two sets were probably the best two, and he held his legs fine. I thought it went great."

Dubee didn't know whether Halladay would make a Minor League rehab start next week and said that the right-hander would be reevaluated after his bullpen session on Monday. The team's original timetable had Halladay returning to the Phillies in late August or early September.

Dubee said that Halladay's arm is getting stronger and that he has already seen the benefits of the surgery, which repaired his labrum and rotator cuff.

"I saw him after surgery, a week or so or two weeks later. His range of motion was so much different," Dubee said. "It's a lot easier for him to get his arm up, and there's no biting, grabbing. It was all good. When he first picked up a ball, his arm slot was tremendously good. All positive stuff."

Halladay is 36 years old and will be a free agent after the season.

"I'm not coming back to try to get a contract for next year, a bigger contract, anything like that," he said on Wednesday. "I just want to come back and pitch. After that, hopefully make a decision on where I can win. I hope that's here."

Worth noting

• Before Saturday's game, Manuel defended his decision to keep Michael Martinez in the lineup in center field despite the arrival of outfielder Casper Wells.

"I'm definitely going to play Wells someday, I'm going to play them all," Manuel said. "But Martinez, I kind of like the fact that he hit .300 [at Triple-A Lehigh Valley] and went back down there. He's been around here for a while, played a good game and got two hits, hit the ball hard last night, so I figured I might as well put him out there today."

• In its past 14 games, the Phillies' bullpen has a cumulative 2.40 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average.