After demotion in lineup, Revere still looking for swing

After demotion in lineup, Revere still looking for swing

April 20, 2013, 11:15 pm
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There’s so much travel in Major League Baseball. You pack. You unpack. Things get left behind. Things get lost. Valuable things. Things you need and can’t do without.

At the beginning of the year, somewhere between the season opener in Atlanta and the home opener in Philadelphia, Ben Revere misplaced something that’s absolutely essential.

“I lost my swing for a little bit,” Revere admitted before the Phillies fell to the Cardinals, 5-0, at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday (see Instant Replay). “The way I had been swinging back in spring training, even in the Atlanta series, I kind of had it. It really didn’t feel the same after that. It was kind of iffy. I couldn’t find it.”

That first series in Atlanta wasn’t a bad start. Revere got a hit in each of the first three games against the Braves. He also scored two runs, drove one in, and stole two bases.

Then his swing disappeared. Over the first 15 games of the season, Revere hit just .194. Even worse: his on-base percentage was an impossibly low .242. That’s an ugly figure for any hitter in any spot in the lineup, but it was unforgivable for a guy who had replaced longtime leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins at the top of the order.

It had to make the Phils nervous. After all, the team acquired Revere from the Twins during the offseason in a trade that sent Vance Worley and Trevor May to Minnesota. A year ago, Revere hit .294 and had a .333 on-base percentage. That OBP wasn’t great, but the organization was obviously optimistic that the 24-year-old centerfielder would improve in that area.

When that didn’t happen right away, when he continued to press and struggle, Charlie Manuel did the only thing a manager could -- he dropped Revere in the order and reinstalled Rollins as the club’s leadoff man.

On Thursday, for the first time all season, Manuel penciled Revere’s name into the seven-hole. That’s where the centerfielder has been for the last three games.

“[Manuel] wanted to switch something up,” Revere said. “It’s happened before, where I struggle and go down in the order and figure things out. That happens and then I’m rolling. I did it with the Twins and in the minor leagues. You work on it and get your confidence back.”

Revere wouldn’t cop to feeling pressure. He believes the bat in his hands is giving him trouble, not the space between his ears. Manuel wasn’t so sure.

“I think when I moved him down the other night, it might have slowed him down a little bit,” Manuel said. “He was really trying hard and really swinging hard and jumping out and things like that. It definitely calmed him down some. He can go up and see the ball better and relax more, really.”

Relax. Find your swing. Don’t try so hard. Calm down. Good advice. Sound advice. Advice that’s easier delivered than internalized.

During spring training, Revere openly talked about improving his approach at the plate (see story), getting on base more and drawing more walks. But entering Saturday’s game against St. Louis, he was still having a tough time listening to himself, let alone Manuel.

Revere has walked just four times all year. And entering Saturday’s game against the Cardinals, his slash line wasn’t what he or the Phils hoped: .221/.264/.250.

In the first two games against St. Louis, Revere had three hits in six at-bats and scored two runs. He also smacked a triple, his first extra-base knock of the season. It looked like he might get going.

But in his first at-bat on Saturday, he hit a ground ball up the middle, only to get thrown out by a step at first base. He wasn’t happy about that. As he walked down the steps and into the dugout, he took his helmet off and smacked it against a railing a few times. The TV cameras also caught him mouthing a not-so-PG-13 four-letter word.

In his second at-bat, Revere lined out to left field. In his final at-bat, he struck out.

Finding your swing is hard enough. Dealing with the attendant frustration isn’t any easier.

“There was a little adjustment period,” Revere said about joining a new team in a new league. “A lot more off-speed I’ve been seeing lately. I can hit the off-speed pitches.

“I was just struggling. I was seeing the ball good, it’s just that my swing was so messed up.”

And so the process continues. That swing he lost? Seems he’s still looking for it.