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.”

Phillies-D-backs 5 things: Timely test for Nick Pivetta

Phillies-D-backs 5 things: Timely test for Nick Pivetta

Phillies (24-50) at Diamondbacks (48-28)
3:40 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Looking for a split in their four-game, wraparound series with the Diamondbacks, the Phillies send out Nick Pivetta, their hottest starting pitcher.

1. Pivetta on a roll
Pivetta's struck out 19 batters in 13 innings his last two starts, nine Red Sox then 10 Cardinals, both at home.

He pounded the strike zone in both starts better than he had before, trusting his 95 mph-plus fastball and potentially plus breaking ball and improving his sequencing. Against the Red Sox, Pivetta tested a good lineup with upper-90s heat and missed bats. Against the Cardinals, he froze hitters and got them to swing over the top of two-strike breaking balls.

He's induced 15 swinging strikes in each of the last two starts.

Pivetta joined Jerad Eickhoff (2015) as the only Phillies rookie pitchers since Dick Ruthven in 1973 to strike out nine or more in consecutive starts.

This is a bigger challenge. He's facing one of the NL's best lineups in its ideal setting. The D-backs are 28-10 at home and have their ace going.

2. Greinke settling in at Chase
Greinke has fared much better in his second season in the desert. He signed that enormous contract prior to 2016 — six years, $206.5 million — and disappointed in Year 1, going 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA and his lowest strikeout rate in seven seasons.

He enters this start 8-4 with a 3.14 ERA. He's struck out 103 in 97⅓ innings and walked just 19. His opponents have hit .228, including .206 at home. Safe to say he's adjusted to Chase Field.

The Phillies faced Greinke twice last July. He held them to three hits and a run (an Odubel Herrera homer) over eight innings in the first start and exited in the second inning of the other with an oblique strain.

Greinke is always a difficult matchup. Four-seam fastball (90 to 92 mph), slider, changeup, curve, two-seamer and the occasional sloooow curveball in the upper-60s. 

His slider's held hitters to a .168 batting average in 1,845 at-bats over the last decade.

Current Phils are 12 for 58 (.207) off Greinke with just Herrera's homer, two walks and 15 strikeouts. Freddy Galvis is 1 for 12 with 7 K's.

3. Walk-off observers
The Phillies are going to be an opponent featured often in the highlight tapes of other teams in 2017. 

They've been on the losing end of a major-league high eight walk-offs after Sunday's 2-1 loss. It was their MLB-worst 19th loss in a one-run game. The Phils also have the most extra-inning losses with eight. They had just six walk-off losses all of last season.

This is what happens when a comparative lack of talent meets a lack of timely hits meets a lack of first-pitch strikes meets a lack of luck and breaks meets a lack of gopher ball avoidance.

4. At least there's Altherr
Aaron Altherr refuses to let a few bad days turn into a slump. He's no longer in that .330 or even .310 range, but he's settled in between .280 and .290 the last month and if he can do that with power, speed and good defense … that's a valuable player.

Altherr had a three-hit day Sunday with his second triple, to go along with 15 doubles, 12 homers and 39 RBIs. 

He's hitting .284/.352/.524 on the season. His .876 OPS is 40th in baseball. No, doesn't sound like much. But here are the some of the players behind him: Mookie Betts, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Upton, Adam Duvall, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Abreu, Starlin Castro, Matt Carpenter, Andrew McCutchen, Eric Hosmer, on and on.

Altherr is a longshot to make the NL All-Star team but he's the most worthy Phillie after Pat Neshek.

5. This and that
• Edubray Ramos is 0-7 after taking the loss Sunday. Over the last 17 seasons, the only Phillies reliever to lose more games in a season was Brad Lidge (8) during his horrific 2009.

• How many NL players would you take over Paul Goldschmidt the next three to five seasons? Obvious guys like Corey Seager and Bryce Harper. After that? For me, it'd be between Nolan Arenado, Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman. 

• Cameron Perkins has gotten his at-bats — all but one out of the leadoff spot — but hasn't yet done much with them, going 2 for 22 with no walks and eight strikeouts.

Phillies make significant promotion in sending prospect Scott Kingery to Triple A

Phillies make significant promotion in sending prospect Scott Kingery to Triple A

PHOENIX — Everything that happens in this Phillies season is geared toward the future.

With that, the team made some significant news Sunday night when it promoted prospect Scott Kingery, a hard-hitting, 23-year-old second baseman, to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Kingery had torn up the Double A Eastern League, hitting .313 with 18 homers, 44 RBIs and a .987 OPS in 69 games at Reading.

"This was our target date," director of player development Joe Jordan said Sunday night. "We had been talking about it for quite some time. There really wasn't any magic to it. We had wanted to get him 425 to 450 at-bats at the Double A level and we've done that. It's time for a new challenge."

Kingery played in 39 games at Double A last season and returned there to open this season. He ended up hitting .290 in 434 at-bats at that level.

"Offense, defense, baserunning — it's the whole package," Jordan said. "He impacts the game in a lot of ways every night."

Kingery will become the everyday second baseman at Triple A, joining an infield that already includes prospects J.P Crawford at shortstop and Rhys Hoskins at first base. Depending on what the Phillies do with Cesar Hernandez over the winter — he was available for a trade but at a very steep price last winter, sources say — Kingery could be the Phillies' opening day second baseman in 2018. That's incumbent on his continuing to improve, of course.

Kingery was a former walk-on at the University of Arizona (see story). He blossomed into a Pac-12 batting champion and conference player of the year before being selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 draft.

Kingery was a spring-training standout, leading manager Pete Mackanin to say, "He might be on a fast track to the big leagues."

But barring an unforeseen development, it's highly unlikely that Kingery will get to the majors this season. He does not have to be protected on the 40-man roster until after the 2018 season, and with a number of prospects requiring protection from the Rule 5 draft this winter the Phils will probably hold off on adding Kingery to the roster until they are sure he's ready to come to the majors and stay.