PHILADELPHIA -- Darin Ruf's first 41 games with the Phillies this season had many people believing they had found their everyday right fielder for 2014.
He hit .272 (40-for-147) with eight doubles, 11 home runs, 18 RBIs, 16 walks, 52 strikeouts and a .914 OPS from July 6 through Aug. 24. But pitchers seemed to make an adjustment, which might explain an 11-game stretch from Aug. 25 through Sept. 4 in which he hit .121 (4-for-33) with one homer, three RBIs, five walks, 15 strikeouts and a .443 OPS.
But Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said he has seen improvement recently from Ruf. He entered Wednesday's game against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park hitting .333 (4-for-16) with one homer, two RBIs, four walks, three strikeouts and a 1.083 OPS in his previous four games.
"Much more patient," Sandberg said. "I know he's been getting some sliders off the machine and recognizing the ones that are strikes and the ones that are balls. He's been able to take that into the game with some longer counts. They've had to come back over the plate, whether it's a fastball or it's a breaking pitch he can handle. I think with that, he can hit to right field and he can hit outside pitches, so I think he just got away from that a little bit for a period of time. But he's getting back to what he's done the last couple years. And that's driving those pitches when they're there to the opposite field.
"He's willing to make adjustments and try something and oftentimes has gotten results from that. As pitchers learn to pitch a certain guy, the hitter needs to make the adjustment and then cover that pitch. He's shown me he can work on something and take it in the game."
Asche, Rupp compare first Major League hits
PHILADELPHIA -- Cody Asche and Cameron Rupp both hope to have long and successful big league careers.
They hope to pick up hundreds, if not thousands, of hits.
The Phillies rookies recently compared their first big league hits. Asche reached on a bunt single Aug. 1 when Giants closer Sergio Romo slipped and fell trying to throw to first base. Rupp reached Tuesday on a bleeder up the third-base line. He then did a barrel roll after stumbling across first base.
Not exactly rockets into the gap, but they will take them.
"I think his was more of a hit than mine, but I didn't spill running to first base," Asche said. "They both count. I don't care. I'll take 3,000 of them."
Martin could see back-to-back work in relief
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies rookie Ethan Martin impressed in his first big league relief appearance Tuesday.
He threw a perfect sixth inning in an 8-2 loss to the Padres at Citizens Bank Park. He struck out one, throwing each of his 10 pitches for strikes. Asked Tuesday if Martin might be available to pitch back-to-back days, which is a requirement for any reliever, manager Ryne Sandberg said he was uncertain. Martin's first seven appearances in the big leagues had been as a starter.
It sounded like Martin, who is ranked as the Phillies' 10th-best prospect, could see some action Wednesday, if needed.
"Try to pick some spots for him, different situations, a spot that makes sense with batting orders and with the other guys that we have in the 'pen," Sandberg said.
Phillies pay tribute on anniversary of 9/11
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies commemorated the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks before and during Wednesday's game against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
The day certainly brought back memories for everybody.
"Really scary," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "I remember taking my daughter to preschool. I don't know why I was home. Back then I was just kind of starting out my career in the front office, so I was always on time. The team was on the road in Atlanta. I was not on the road. [General manager Ed Wade] was with the team.
"So I was able to go in a little later. I dropped my kids off. It was a late start to the morning. Typically I was in there by 9 o'clock. But for whatever reason it was a late start. Then I saw something going on on the TV, CNN or whatever. Then I actually was watching when the second plane hit. And that's when I started going, 'Holy mackerel, this is crazy.' I went to go pick up my daughter at school to make sure everything was fine because I got kind of panicky."
Senior Airmen Eric Anderson of the Air Force sang the national anthem before the game. Technical sergeant Karen Blackburn from the Air Force was set to sing America the Beautiful, and Philadelphia police officer Nate Fulton was scheduled to sing God Bless America.
Local police officers and firemen carried out the 50 state flags before the game, which included an All-Service Military Color Guard with members of the Philadelphia Police Department Ceremonial Color Guard and Philadelphia Fire Department Color Guard.
Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels met with members of the Liberty USO of PA and South Jersey before the game. Every uniformed personnel on both teams wore an American flag patch on the side of their caps.
A ceremonial base change involved Battalion Chief Charles Klink from the fire department and officer Paul Bryant with police dog Deeohgee from the police department.
"I think we might have been the first team to play, or one of the first [after 9/11], and I remember everybody lining up," Amaro said. "[Former manager] Larry Bowa with tears in his eyes. Very emotional. I remember being up in the box in the Vet and being very emotional, hoping the game would help people start to heal a little bit emotionally."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.