Botched infield fly costs Phils potential rally

In need of offensive boost, club could start giving Ruf reps in outfield

Botched infield fly costs Phils potential rally

NEW YORK -- Manager Pete Mackanin emphasized the fundamentals this spring because he knew the Phillies have little margin for error.

But he never expected to need a refresher course on the infield fly rule four games into the season. Cesar Hernandez forgot about the rule Friday, ending a potential rally in the eighth inning of a 7-2 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. The Phillies are 0-4 for the first time since 2006. They need to win Saturday to avoid their first 0-5 start since 1934.

"That was unacceptable," Mackanin said. "You can't excuse that. He should know better. He's an infielder."

The Phillies had Hernandez on first and Freddy Galvis on second with one out when Odubel Herrera hit a popup in the infield, just to the left of the pitcher's mound. Mets third baseman David Wright moved underneath the ball, but the wind blew it behind him.

No matter, the infield fly rule had been called.

But Hernandez ran to second the moment the ball hit the ground. Wright threw to Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who threw to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who tagged Hernandez for the inning-ending double play.

"I did not see the umpire call the infield fly," Hernandez said through the Phillies' translator. "I was trying to listen to my first-base coach, but couldn't hear a thing because it was so loud. When the ball hit the ground, I reacted to it. However, there are no excuses. I am an infielder. I know the rules. I take full responsibility for it. It won't happen again."

"Freddy didn't move," Mackanin said. "He knew [not to run]."

Asked if the Phillies reteach the infield fly rule in Spring Training, Mackanin said, "You shouldn't have to. In high school you should know that."

Of course, this is not to say the Phillies would have overcome a five-run deficit, but they need every bit of help they can get. They have scored more than two runs just once in four games this season. They are hitting .120 (3-for-25) with runners in scoring position.

The Phillies need offense so badly they just told Darin Ruf to begin to take fly balls in left field during batting practice. The Phillies essentially pulled the plug on Ruf as an outfielder in Spring Training because they said they valued defense over offense in the outfield.

But Phillies outfielders are a hitting combined .116 (5-for-43) with one double, one home run and two RBIs.

"Although it's not according to plan, we need some bats with some power," Mackanin said.

"I don't think that was even a thought," Ruf said. "Now it is."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.