PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies honored their top Minor Leaguers of the year on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. Neither had to walk more than a few steps out of the dugout to receive their award.
Following breakout seasons, recent Phillies callups Tyler Cloyd and Darin Ruf were presented with the 2012 Paul Owens Award for the best pitcher and player, respectively, in Philadelphia's farm system. The award, named for the late Phillies general manager, was presented by Owens' grandchildren, Geoff and Kevin, and current assistant general managers Benny Looper and Marti Wolever.
"To obviously have the season I did and get that award, it's definitely an accomplishment," Cloyd said. Cloyd, the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher, parlayed a 15-1 record between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley into a late August promotion. The 25-year-old right-hander from Bellevue, Neb., is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts with the Phillies, including an eight-inning, one-run performance in Thursday night's 16-1 win over the Mets.
"I just came into the year just trying to go out and have a good year, go out and be strong every outing. It happened, and everything just kind of fell the way it did," he said.
Ruf, a first baseman/outfielder from Omaha, Neb., earned a September callup after mashing 38 regular-season home runs, which broke Ryan Howard's single-season record at Reading and led all Minor Leaguers. His 104 RBIs led the Eastern League, and he finished second in the third leg of the Triple Crown with a .317 average.
Cloyd and Ruf are two of just eight Nebraskans to have played in the Major Leagues this season. Ironically, they competed against each other throughout high school.
"[The award] means a lot," said Ruf, who is ranked by MLB.com as the Phillies' No. 20 prospect. "Especially to receive it alongside Tyler, being from the same city, it's special."
Ruf credited both his family and Reading teammates as having a part in his success. On Friday night, his parents attended their first Phillies game since their son's promotion to the Phillies. Ruf said his father, Bill, did as much research on Owens as possible.
"I think he knows Paul better than Paul probably knew himself by now," Ruf joked.
"It will be nice to get [the award] in front of them, because without them I wouldn't be in this position at all," he said. "Everything they've given up for me to be here, it's nice to be able to receive it in front of them."
Chipper reflects upon final visit to Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- Chipper Jones is asked the same question every time he meets new reporters in a new city.
Does he think at all about coming back?
"Did you see me walk in here?" he said.
Jones limped through the visitor's clubhouse Friday at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies and Braves opened a three-game series. Jones, 40, is retiring after the season, despite hitting .297 with 14 home runs, 60 RBIs and an .856 on-base-plus slugging percentage in 102 games.
"I'm in a lot of pain today," he said. "It's time. I'm happy that I've played well. I'm happy I've produced when I've been in there, but it's time to go."
He is not looking back, and he has no regrets.
So this represents the last time Jones will play baseball in Philadelphia. He entered Friday having played a combined 119 games at Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park, hitting .329 (136-for-414) with 24 home runs, 69 RBIs and a 1.029 OPS.
The Phillies honored him before the game.
"I have a lot of respect for these guys," Jones said. "These guys have done it as well as anybody for the last five or six years, even before the last five or six years. I was in the dugout in '93, when they beat us with the [Curt] Schillings and [Terry] Mulhollands and Dutch [Darren Daulton] and [Lenny] Dykstra and all those guys. A lot of good baseball has been played here in Philly."
Jones discussed his three most memorable moments in Philadelphia:
Phillies closer Mitch Williams striking out Bill Pecota for the final out in Game 6 of the 1993 National League Championship Series. "I can remember leaving the Vet, and all the fans outside the stadium almost tipped our bus over," Jones said. "It was a little intro into what Philly fans were all about. That was fun."
The Phillies and Braves playing the first game following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Sept. 17 at Veterans Stadium. Jones homered in his first at-bat in the first inning against Phillies right-hander Robert Person.
Every plate appearance against pitchers like Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Schilling. "That's how you make a name for yourself, going out and putting up good AB's against guys like that," Jones said. "They're the best in the business. They have not made it easy for us."
Phillies fans loved to boo Jones during his appearances here, chanting his first name, "Larry! Larry! Larry!"
"I think it was kind of a trickle-down effect from New York," Jones said.
Fans will get one final chance to boo him this weekend, although Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he isn't looking forward to seeing Jones retire, despite the number of times he has hurt the Phillies.
"Why wouldn't we want to face him?" he said. "You're not afraid to play anybody. If you're a champion, you should never want [anything] easy or you should look at it as you want to play the best and beat the best."
The Phillies became the first team in Major League history to score eight runs in the first inning and seven in the ninth inning during Thursday night's 16-1 victory over the Mets, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Friday night's series opener against the Braves marked the first game of the Phillies' final homestand of the season. After starting the year 17-29 at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia has won 21 of its last 29 home games, including seven straight.
Jimmy Rollins has tallied at least one hit in 16 of 18 games this month. His 18 runs scored in September rank first in the National League, and his seven home runs this month are tied with Adam LaRoche and Rickie Weeks for the NL lead.
Ryan Howard is two home runs away from becoming just the second Phillie all-time to hit 300 career homers.