Phillies move struggling Revere out of leadoff spot

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Phillies move struggling Revere out of leadoff spot

Charlie Manuel had been thinking about it for a few days. After Ben Revere went 0 for 12 in the Reds series, he didn’t have to think about it any longer.

Revere is out of the leadoff spot for the Phillies, and Jimmy Rollins is back at the top of the order.

For now. Maybe for much longer.

Revere, who has hit leadoff in all 15 of the Phillies’ games so far, is hitting seventh in Manuel’s lineup against the Cards Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park, the first game of an eight-game homestand.

After hitting .259 in the Phils’ first six games, Revere is hitting just .143 (5 for 35) over the last nine games.

“I talked to Charlie when I came to the field, and he’s like it’s something that we’re going to try a little switch-up and we’ll see how it works,” Revere said at his locker before the game.

“He told me, ‘I’m not giving up on you. I know you’re a good hitter and everything.’ I hit down there before, it’s no biggie. I’m struggling a little bit but trying to figure out that swing and figure out these pitchers and I’ll be rolling real soon.”

The Phillies scored just 10 runs in their six-game road trip, going 2-4 to fall to 6-9 this year.

It’s not like Rollins is tearing the cover off the ball himself. He was 1 for 18 on the road trip, his averaging dropping from .316 to .232.

But Manuel felt like he had to do something, and he doesn’t have that many options.

“How can you score runs if you don’t put yourself in position to score runs?” he said. “You are going to go through periods when you aren’t scoring runs. When you are putting yourself in position not to score runs, you don’t want that to go on for a long time.”

Revere, 24, hit .294 last year with the Twins and then hit .326 with five doubles in spring training. But since a three-hit game against the Royals on April 7, he has just five hits.

“He’s hitting most of his balls on the infield,” Manuel said. “If you remember, he stung some balls in spring training. At the same time, too, spring training is different. When the bell rings, big-league pitchers, he’s getting to see some No. 1s and 2s and 3s and 4s and 5s, stuff like that.

“He’s not getting to see any guys who are trying to make the team and are Double A or Triple A pitchers and things like that. That’s a whole new ball of wax when the bell rings.”

Revere, who spent his first three seasons with the Twins, said he didn’t want to make any excuses for his slump but said it’s been difficult getting adjusted to National League pitchers.

“One of the best hitters, [Albert] Pujols, kind of struggled last year in the AL with the Angels. It’s just learning new pitchers [who] pitch you differently. You’ve got to switch up to a new game plan.

“I’ve been watching film with [hitting coach] Steve Henderson, and I kind of found out what I’ve been doing wrong since spring training.

“I haven’t been swinging the way I had been swinging in spring training, just kind of been going back to the film and seeing what I’m doing and kind of been working some drills today, and I feel a lot better right now swinging in the cage.”

With Domonic Brown out with back soreness, Manuel’s lineup Thursday night has Freddy Galvis playing left and batting second, followed by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Michael Young, John Mayberry, Revere, Erik Kratz and Cole Hamels.

“I talked to [Revere] and told him I wanted to drop him down in the order, relax him and get him going,” Manuel said. “I told him our lineup is never set. It’s not like he won’t be back in the leadoff hole at some time or hitting second at some time. That’s definitely. I want to put him down there, give him some time and relax.”

Revere started out strong last year -- he was hitting .331 as late as Aug. 6 -- but hit .236 the rest of the way.

“I think Ben's going to be fine,” general manager Ruben Amaro said. “I think Charlie's just trying to shake things up, get things going. I don't blame Charlie for making these kind of changes.

“Ben's been struggling, Jimmy's been struggling but he's had success in the one-hole. I think Ben's going to be fine. I think he just needs to start swinging it. Just like a lot of other guys, he's been struggling.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

NEW YORK -- Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received a majority of votes for the first time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell , on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

"Anxiety was very, very high," Bagwell said. "I wrote it on a ball tonight. It was kind of cool."

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Lee Smith, who had 478 saves, got 34 percent in his final time on the ballot. Jorge Posada, Tim Wakefield and Magglio Ordonez were among the players who got under 5 percent and fell off future ballots.

No splashes, but Phillies significantly upgraded lineup this offseason

No splashes, but Phillies significantly upgraded lineup this offseason

The addition of outfielder Michael Saunders doesn't suddenly make the Phillies an NL contender, but coupled with the trade for Howie Kendrick, the Phils' projected lineup is much deeper and more well-rounded than it was at this time last year.

By adding two capable corner outfield bats, the lineup has been lengthened, and it's unlikely you'll see someone like Freddy Galvis in the five-hole much in 2017.

The Saunders signing is not yet official, but assuming it goes through, the Phils' lineup could look like this on opening day:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B (S)
2. Howie Kendrick, LF 
3. Odubel Herrera, CF (L)
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, RF (L)
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS (S)

Considering the Phillies started Cedric Hunter and Peter Bourjos in the outfield corners last opening day, this is a huge upgrade even if Kendrick and Saunders are not huge names. 

Phillies leftfielders hit .212/.284/.332 last season. Unless Kendrick forgets how to hit overnight, he won't come close to those numbers. Phillies rightfielders had eight home runs in 637 plate appearances last season. Give Saunders that many PAs and you're likely looking at 27 to 30 homers.

Before last season, Kendrick hit between .279 and .322 every year from 2006 to 2015. Having a guy who can hit .290 with a .330-plus on-base percentage in the two-hole is a big deal, especially if he's hitting between Hernandez (.371 OBP last season) and Herrera (.361 OBP). You can foresee plenty of scenarios where, if that's the 1-2-3, Herrera comes up with runners on the corners in the first inning.

Saunders is another 20-plus home run bat. When you look through the Phillies' lineup, there are potentially five of those. Plus, don't sleep on the improvement Herrera made in that department last season, almost doubling his HR total from eight to 15.

The balance of left-handed and right-handed bats will make the Phillies more difficult to pitch to. It was important that the outfield bat they added was left-handed, because if not you'd be looking at an extremely right-handed heavy middle of the order.

Also, don't underestimate the impact of adding two veteran hitters who have had success in the majors. Franco could use all the additional advice he can get. Herrera, too, is at an impressionable age. Might Franco be less likely to give away an at-bat, as he did so many times in 2016, with someone like Kendrick there to greet him at the top step of the dugout? That question may sound silly, but the entire environment changes when you add a respected veteran leader to a clubhouse filled with kids.

This is not to say the Phillies will have a top-five offense in 2017. They'll still likely be toward the bottom-half or bottom-third of the National League, but as of right now this isn't the NL's worst lineup like it was for the majority of last season. The Reds and Padres have worse lineups, and you could add the Brewers and Pirates to that list if Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen are traded.

Pete Mackanin has called for more offense and more lineup flexibility and he's gotten it, even though it doesn't involve real star power. Kendrick's ability to also play first base and second base could allow Aaron Altherr to get some playing time in an outfield corner when Hernandez or Joseph sits. 

The only real casualty of the Saunders signing is Roman Quinn, who Mackanin confirmed Tuesday night would likely spend the year at Triple A. Quinn showed some flashes late last season and is an exciting player, but it would have been risky to rely on him as a starting outfielder in 2017 given he's never even reached 400 plate appearances in a season.