Ben Revere looks to improve approach at plate

Ben Revere looks to improve approach at plate
February 17, 2013, 10:15 am
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CLEARWATER, Fla – Not long after the Phillies acquired Ben Revere, the fast but light-hitting centerfielder joked with reporters. He has obvious ability, but he doesn’t get on base nearly as often as you might expect given his speed.

“Even my mom gets mad at me when I hit pop flies,” he said.

His mom sounds like a smart lady.

There’s a scene in Major League where manager Lou Brown tells similarly fast but light-hitting centerfielder Willie Mays Hayes that, with his speed, he “should be hitting them on the ground and legging them out.” (It’s around the 1:50 mark.) Every time Hayes hits one in the air, Brown demands 20 pushups.

It’s unlikely that Charlie Manuel will employ the Brown technique with Revere – though it would be hilarious and maybe even instructional if he did. Revere – who was part of a trade that sent pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May to the Twins – hit .294 last season in Minnesota. It was a solid average. His on-base percentage (.333) was not so solid.

“It’s something I need to work on,” Revere admitted. “I think I can get better in that area and I want to get better."

In 124 games with the Twins a year ago, Revere had 553 plate appearances – and only 29 walks. Those numbers are so staggeringly lopsided that it's almost impossible to believe.

“I’d like to see him walk more, yeah, get more consistent,” Manuel said. “At the same time, I haven’t seen him enough to know what expectations to have.”

What the Phillies have seen, again, is Revere’s undeniable speed. The 24-year-old had 40 stolen bases a year ago – another reason why getting on base is so imperative. Once he reaches first, he’s a serious threat to swipe the next bag (or two).

The Phillies could certainly use that kind of weapon. In 2012, the Fightin’s were 17th in Major League Baseball in on-base percentage and 19th in runs scored. The question is whether Revere can adapt his approach – and also where he’ll hit in the lineup.

“It’s up to the big man. It’s up to Charlie,” said Revere who, despite all those pop-ups that his mom hates, hasn’t hit a Major League home run and hasn’t had a homer at all since 2011 when he pushed one over the wall in Triple-A. “Either one-two, me batting leadoff and Jimmy [Rollins] batting second or he’s batting leadoff and I’m batting second – because I batted second with the Twins last year. It’s only up to the big man. We’ll see what he wants to do.”

It’s doubtful that Revere will hit leadoff. That slot has long belonged to Rollins – even though Rollins, like Revere, doesn’t walk much or get on base at a great rate. (Rollins has a career .328 OBP). The more likely scenario would feature Revere lower in the lineup, probably eighth.

However it unfolds, Revere said he’s fine with it. In fairness, his defense in center field is his biggest strength – Chase Utley raved about watching him shag fly balls during batting practice the other day – and the principal reason why he’ll be an opening day starter.

While Revere tries to improve at the plate, he’s busied himself entertaining his new teammates and his manager. Manuel said Revere has “energy and humor,” which is pretty much how Revere described himself, too. Actually, Revere called himself “goofy little Ben Revere.”

“I’m one of those guys who tries to bring high energy to a team,” Revere said. “I want to bring excitement. When I was in Minnesota, they called me the firecracker. When I get going, the sparks fly up, man. Everybody starts going.”

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