Darin Ruf had mentally circled right about now for his return. He thought Monday or Tuesday could be doable; he knew the Diamondbacks were planning to throw lefty Caleb Smith on Thursday, which would set up nicely.
His hamstring has not followed the timetable his mind laid out.
The Giants’ first baseman/left fielder/valuable bat off the bench is still waiting for a Grade-2 strain to fully heal. Asked before Tuesday’s game at Oracle Park what he has left to do in his rehab, he said with a laugh, “Feel good.”
He has not been able to go all-out after rounding first hard in Arizona on May 26, slamming on the brakes and his hamstring giving way. Three weeks later, he is running but not 100 percent — he estimated “60-ish percent” — but not able to release like he would need to on the field.
He wasn’t sure how to describe the feeling and settled on “uncomfortable” rather than, say, painful. He is not alone on a team that has had its share of hamstring issues, with Tommy La Stella on the 60-day IL and Wilmer Flores requiring a 10-day stint in May, but the frustration is clear.
“When I come back, I want to bring value to the team,” said Ruf, who has posted an .882 OPS in 100 plate appearances and was about to step in to a brief everyday role, with Brandon Belt down, when the injury occurred. “Especially when we’re playing so well, I don’t want to go out there and [get] a play that I should make and not make it.”
The Giants have managed without Ruf. And without La Stella, Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson, plus time missed from Mike Yastrzemski and Belt, just to name a few. They have not seen a ton of opposing lefties recently (which has removed time from Austin Slater and Mauricio Dubon) but Ruf had hit righties fairly well, too. The need for Ruf has been a bit relaxed since Belt’s return, but he still would be helpful off the bench, in left and to complement Belt. Few on the team give better, more consistent at-bats than the 34-year-old.
Ruf is hitting in the cage and running the bases, but not as he or the club wants him to. He has never dealt with a hamstring injury, and Gabe Kapler allowed that he thinks “it might take a few days longer” than a Thursday or Friday return.
They don’t know if he’ll need a rehab assignment. He needs to feel good, which hasn’t happened yet.