VIERA, Fla. -- Center fielder Ben Revere knows why the Nationals acquired him. He is expected to be their leadoff hitter, replacing Denard Span, and score a lot of runs.No problem, Revere says. He believes 2016 could be his best year yet. Acquired from the Blue Jays in a trade
VIERA, Fla. -- Center fielder Ben Revere knows why the Nationals acquired him. He is expected to be their leadoff hitter, replacing Denard Span, and score a lot of runs.
No problem, Revere says. He believes 2016 could be his best year yet. Acquired from the Blue Jays in a trade for reliever Drew Storen in January, Revere's confidence is sky high because the Nationals are already making him feel at home. In fact, he went so far as to call manager Dusty Baker a father figure.
"There are some coaches I played for that make you feel awkward," Revere said. "You don't know what you are going to do. It gets to the point where if you don't do well one time, you think it's over. You are like done. But if you bust your tail for Dusty, no matter what, he is going to have your back. You can struggle and he will have your back. He is going to be like a father figure. No matter what, he is going to have your back."
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Revere is a career .295 hitter with great bat control. He strikes out once every 10 at-bats. That batting average could be higher this year. Prior to this season, inside pitches gave Revere problems. This offseason, he figured something out with his swing. He decided to have his hands close to his body. It helps him see inside pitches and offspeed pitches better. It should help him pull the ball more often.
If his Spring Training batting average was any indication, Revere's new swing is working out nicely. Entering Monday's action, he has a .389 batting average and is pulling the ball with authority.
In fact, former teammate John Mayberry Jr. told Revere recently, "I see you driving the ball on the pull side like I've never seen before. I have a feeling you may do something big this year."
"I'm trying," Revere told Mayberry.
With him being part of a good lineup that features Bryce Harper, Revere believes he can get 10 to 15 triples, maybe 30, 40 doubles and maybe 50 to 60 stolen bases. A .300 batting average would be nice as well.
"If you hit .300 a year, you will be playing this game for a long time and make a lot of money," Revere said. "That stat line says .300, you had a great year. ... Baseball is tough. With pitchers these days, moving the ball with the velocity they have, it's tough."
It was former Major Leaguer Juan Pierre who put it in Revere's head that he could be a valuable leadoff hitter. At the time, Pierre was with the White Sox and Revere was with the Twins and they became friends. After he was selected in the first round of the 2007 Draft, Revere was often compared to the former catalyst.
"Before an early game, he would be out there doing his stuff," Revere said. "I would sit down and talk to him. He would take me out to eat. I was just talking to him and picking his brain. He really helped me out. I thanked him a lot, even after he retired. He gave me confidence in myself. Not a lot of people did that."
No wonder Revere's confidence is high.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.