CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — There are plenty of question marks in the outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ben Revere has no plans on being one of them.
While the next six weeks will be an open audition for both corner outfield spots, Revere plans on using spring training to show manager Charlie Manuel the team didn’t give up too much to trade for the speedy 24-year-old.
Philadelphia acquired the former first round pick last December in exchange for starter Vance Worley and reliever Travis May. It was a surprising move, particularly to Revere. He expected to be traded at some point, knowing the Twins were already set at centerfield with Denard Span.
Revere just didn’t expect to be traded from a team trying to rebuild to one ready to make another run at a World Series. When Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan called Revere to tell him about the move, Revere admits he was a little stunned.
“The Phillies came in and just swooped me up out of nowhere and my agent was like yeah, ‘They came in and pretty much beast-moded it,'” Revere said with a laugh.
Now Philadelphia expects Revere to do the same on the base paths and in the outfield. The Phillies traded away two-time All-Star Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, taking away a part of the clubhouse’s soul in the process.
Revere is not Victorino, who landed with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason. He’s not nearly as chatty and lacks the pop at the plate. That’s fine by Phillies, who are more concerned about production than power. Revere hit .294 with 32 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 124 games in 2012 while hitting mostly from the second spot in the lineup.
There appear to be no immediate plans to move Revere into leadoff, at least not as long as Jimmy Rollins is around. Manuel says he will wait to see how Revere performs during the spring before finding a slot for him.
All that matters to Revere, however, is that he’s in the lineup every day. Provided he stays healthy, that shouldn’t be an issue. There are few players in baseball who have the 5-foot-9, 170-pound blur’s range, a necessary tool while playing in the spacious outfield at Citizens Bank Ballpark.
Revere hasn’t even stepped a foot on the turf in his new home yet, though he knows it will be a decided change from Target Field in Minnesota.
“The ball carries (in Philadelphia),” Revere said. “If that’s the case, I’ll play a couple steps back to rob home runs or something. With the pitching staff right now, I don’t think (home runs) will be a problem. I’m going to do everything I can to track balls down and make pitchers happy so they welcome me into their arms.”
Revere certainly made an impression on Manuel during Philadelphia’s three-game series with the Twins last season. Revere went 6-of-14 with three RBIs during the set, spraying the ball all over the field depending upon the situation and the matchup.
Manuel had no problem recalling the hits when asked on Tuesday, and though it’s difficult to give up a promising starter in Worley, Manuel also understands the skill set Revere brings is something his aging team needs.
So does pitching coach Rich Dubee.
“Ben Revere’s job is to hit .300 and hopefully get on base a ton,” Dubee said. “He can create a lot of things.”
Typically, however, only when he swings the bat. Revere’s on base percentage was a middling .333. He walked just 29 times in nearly 600 plate appearances, a number that needs to go up if he ever does want to become an effective leadoff hitter.
It’s not always easy when pitchers know you’re not a threat to go deep. Revere has yet to hit a home run in the majors and had just five during his minor league career. Compare that to Victorino, who averaged over 12 homers during his seven full seasons in Philadelphia. That means Revere has to create chaos in other ways, including taking more pitches.
“It’s just like they’re coming right at me and it’s kind of tough,” Revere said. “People want me to go deep in the count and I do too, but I don’t want to go deep in the count 0-2.”
Maybe, but he might have to get used to it if he stays near the top of the lineup. If he’s hitting in front of the likes of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Revere knows pitchers aren’t going to mess around. Dubee says those who come at Revere will do so at their own peril.
“You can attack him but you just can’t lay balls in there to him by no means unless he’s an absolute out,” Dubee said. “But he’s not an absolute out.”
Hardly. He was a couple of bounces away from hitting .300 for the first time and if he can do it over the course of 150 or so games, his run production should skyrocket. Revere scored 70 runs last season. He plans on crossing the plate at least 100 times this year.
“That’s always the goal, just get in scoring position and it’s like boom,” Revere said. “I’ve just got to get on base. If I do that, the sky’s the limit.”
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