Ben Revere finally hits 1st big-league home run

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Ben Revere finally hits 1st big-league home run

Ryne Sandberg didn’t hesitate when asked if he thought centerfielder Ben Revere would ever hit a home run in the big leagues.

“No,” Sandberg said.

Through 384 games and 1,466 at-bats, Revere never hit a homer in the big leagues. Actually, he never really even came close. There were a few warning-track shots here and there, but nothing more than one could count on two hands.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game, Revere had the longest homer-less streak to start a career since Frank Tavares of the Pirates went 1,594 at-bats without a homer from 1972-77.

The odds were that if Revere was going to ever get a home run, he would have to use his legs to get it.

But with one out in the seventh inning of the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the Rockies (see game story), Revere got a 1-1 fastball from reliever Boone Logan and turned on it.

There was no doubt about it.

“When I got to second base, I didn’t know what to do,” Revere said. “When I hit it I knew I got it good. When I looked up and saw [rightfielder Michael Cuddyer] look up it kind of hit me a little bit. I was trying not to smile, but some of the guys got on me. It was hard not to smile.”

With one homer in his career, Revere is tied with other renowned slap hitters like Pepe Frias and Duine Kuiper. Frias played in 723 big-league games over nine seasons and didn’t hit a homer until the seventh year of his career. Kuiper hit his lone homer in the fourth season of a 12-year major-league career.

Kuiper played eight more years without hitting another homer.

Revere’s drought wasn’t as bad as some, though. Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa didn’t get his first homer until his 1,745th plate appearance and it was an inside-the-park job. Bowa didn’t actually hit one out of the park until the 599th game of his career.

“You have to give him credit for going out there for that many at-bats and to finally get that first home run,” said pitcher Cole Hamels, who also has one career homer. “It’s a special moment. Hopefully there will be more of that to come with not as many at-bats in between. We know he’s capable of doing it, but it’s an exciting moment for him. We’ll probably give him a good time -- the hitters will razz him a little more in BP tomorrow.”

Revere knew he was going to get one, he just hoped it would have come in a winning situation.

“It was just a matter of time,” Revere said. “My game is to hit line drives and to hit the ball on the ground. I get in a lot of trouble when I hit the ball in the air. But this time it went over the fence. I wish we would have won the game, but it was a good feeling.”

Sandberg, who hit his first homer in his 27th game, went just three innings between that maiden homer and No. 2. The Hall of Famer, who retired with 282 homers, knew Revere had the power. He just never thought it would happen in a game.

“He gets them all the time in batting practice, but that was a rare swing to the pull side elevating the ball,” Sandberg said. “He does such a good job with his role of staying on top of the ball and hitting the ball through the holes, but it looked like batting practice for him.”

Now that he has that first one under his belt, Revere has his eyes set on No. 2 … and beyond.

“It’s past me and now I’m just trying to get 400 more,” Revere said.

Drew Anderson has emerged as one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects

Drew Anderson has emerged as one of the Phillies' top pitching prospects

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Drew Anderson remembers his telephone ringing in November. He remembers hearing Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan congratulate him and tell him that he'd been placed on the team's 40-man roster.

Anderson was elated.

"It was awesome," the right-handed pitcher said the other day.

So awesome that Anderson celebrated in an unusual way.

"I busted out 50 pushups," he said. "I had so much adrenaline."

The internal discussions that teams have when considering which players to protect on the 40-man roster and which ones to risk losing in the Rule 5 draft are often long and detailed and decisions are not always reached easily.

But in Anderson's case ...

"It was not a long conversation," Jordan said. "The feeling was, 'Put him on the roster. Don't lose him. Let's talk about the next guy.'"

"Across the board," minor-league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves said. "And that's not common for a kid that pitched in A-ball."

Anderson, who turns 23 on March 22, will get his first taste of Double A ball in April.

Clearly, the Phillies are high on him.

But how high?

"We've got scouts who will tell you that he might be our best pitching prospect," Jordan said.

Given some of the power arms that the Phils have collected in the low minors, that's quite a statement.

If it seems as if Anderson has flown below the radar since being drafted by the Phillies in 2012 it's because, well, he's done just that.

For a while.

He received little interest from four-year colleges coming out of Galena High School in Reno, Nevada, and was headed to Mesa Community College in Arizona before the Phillies selected him in the 21st round that year.

"My name never really got out there," he said. "Really only the Phillies looked at me. (Area scout) Joey Davis saw me and he said he liked that I had a fluid arm and he liked the way the ball jumped out of my hand. He saw me as a sleeper pick. I just wanted to play ball so I said, 'Yeah, I'll give it a shot.'"

Jordan recalled seeing Anderson pitch at Single A Lakewood early in the 2014 season. Anderson had added strength to his 6-foot-3 frame and his fastball velocity had jumped from 90-92 mph to 93-95 mph.

"It was just a matter of physical maturity, his body getting stronger, and we were really excited," Jordan said.

Anderson did not make it through that season, however. He came down with an elbow injury and the following spring became a statistic — a pitcher who needed Tommy John surgery.

Anderson missed the 2015 season. He came back in May of last year and made 15 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater. At Clearwater, the Phillies' advanced Single A stop, Anderson posted a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. He struck out 37 and walked 10.

The rehabilitation process after Tommy John surgery focuses on more than just the elbow. Special attention is paid to the shoulder and the legs. Working under Joe Rauch, the Phillies' minor-league rehab specialist, Anderson gained much strength in those areas and it showed in his fastball velocity last summer.

He got it up to 97 mph.

He also has a good breaking ball and an improving changeup to go with a classic pitcher's body. He has long arms and weighs 205 pounds.

"We just felt some team out there would have taken him even if they had to stash him in the bullpen," said Jordan, expounding on the Phils' decision to add Anderson to the 40-man roster in November. "He's too big an asset."

Anderson is excited about making the jump to Reading this season. He's never pitched more than 76 innings as a pro and now that he's healthy needs to start racking up mound time and experience.

Anderson mentioned how hard he worked this offseason to get ready for his first trip to big-league camp and what lies beyond when he heads to Double A.

The hard work started with those 50 pushups that he busted out upon learning that he'd been placed on the 40-man roster.

"After hearing that, it was time to kick it in gear," he said. "I was like, 'Let's do this.'

"I've had some ups and downs, but I feel like I'm on track now."

Phillies Notes: Hector Neris looks to become three-pitch guy in 2017

Phillies Notes: Hector Neris looks to become three-pitch guy in 2017

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Hector Neris racked up 102 strikeouts, the second-most ever by a Phillies reliever, during his breakout 2016 season.

The right-hander did it basically with a two-pitch mix — a power fastball and a darting splitter that manager Pete Mackanin likes to call “an invisible pitch.”

After last season, Neris reflected on his success, which included a 2.58 ERA over 80⅓ innings, the third-most among NL relievers.

Neris determined that he would need to diversify his pitch repertoire if he’s going to continue to have success.

So during winter ball in his native Dominican Republic, he dusted off his seldom-used slider and threw it more. He’s polishing it up in this camp and plans to use it in the upcoming World Baseball Classic and during the regular season.

“I think it’s something that can make me better,” Neris said. “I’ve never had the confidence in it that I had in my other pitches, but I’m working hard on it. It will give me a third option for the hitter to think about.”

Neris threw a slider 2.9 percent of the time in 2016, according to MLB Statcast. He threw more than 49 percent splitters and 46 percent fastballs.

“In the big leagues you have to respect the hitter,” Neris said. “The hitters know me now and they know I throw fastballs and splitters. I need to have that third pitch for them to respect. When I throw it, I want them to say, ‘What is that?’”

Neris’ splitter darts down and in to a right-hander hitter. The slider will break the other way.

Neris has talked about different grips on the pitch with guest spring-training instructor Larry Andersen, who threw a million sliders in his career.

“He threw some nasty ones today,” Andersen said after Tuesday’s workout. “The pitch will help him.”

McLaren to WBC
Bullpen coach John McLaren will leave camp on Wednesday and travel to Japan as Team China assembles for the World Baseball Classic. McLaren will manage that club. He also skippered the club in 2013.

Asked if he spoke more than seven words of Chinese, McLaren quipped, “That would be pushing it. I’m still trying to conquer English.”

Team China will provide a translator for McLaren, though there is a universal element to baseball communication.

“This is my third time going to the WBC,” McLaren said. “I love it.”

Almost game time
The Phillies will play their annual exhibition game against the University of Tampa on Thursday. The Phils are expected to play many of the young players that will make up their Triple A Lehigh Valley roster. Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr., who pitched at Double A Reading last season, will come over from minor-league camp to make the start. Pitching coach Bob McClure said he expected to get several projected big-league relievers work in the game.

Alec Asher will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees on Friday in Tampa and Adam Morgan will start Saturday’s games against the Yankees in Clearwater.