Status with Phils in flux as Revere returns to Minnesota
Former leadoff hitter, starting center fielder prepares to face Twins for first time
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ben Revere probably expected to return to Target Field as the Phillies' everyday center fielder, maybe hitting .300, possibly batting first on a team expected to compete with the best in the National League.
That could be the case in the future, but not on Tuesday.
Revere will face the Twins, who selected him in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, for the first time since they traded him to the Phils in December for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May. He played well enough in Spring Training to convince manager Charlie Manuel to make him the leadoff hitter, a considerable break from the status quo for Manuel, who had kept Jimmy Rollins in the top spot for the most part since he became manager in 2005.
But after a slow and inconsistent start through the first two-plus months of the season, Revere remains in a state of flux.
Can Philadelphia count on the 25-year-old to be part of its future?
"It's still a bit of an incomplete," said general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., when asked about his impressions of Revere. "Ben is making adjustments. He hasn't played as well as maybe we had hoped at the outset, but we know he can do some things. We know he can do some things on the bases.
"I think right now, he's still a work in progress. When we got him, we knew he was a young player. We hoped he would be able to improve, and that's what we hope. He hasn't come out like gangbusters, but Ben's got ability. I think the most important thing is we have to understand he's a young player, and we have to have some level of patience with the guy."
Revere hit .200 (18-for-90) with one triple, four RBIs, four walks, 14 strikeouts, five stolen bases and a .456 OPS in April. He lasted just 15 games as Manuel's leadoff hitter, though he has hit in that spot a few times since.
But while Revere hit .312 (24-for-77) with three doubles, one RBI, six walks, nine strikeouts, five stolen bases and a .712 OPS in May, few noticed as his season average never rose above .263. He enters this week's series against Minnesota hitting .192 in June, starting just once in the previous four games.
And though Revere has made some spectacular defensive plays in center field, he has struggled at times, not looking like the Gold Glove-caliber defender the Phillies expected.
"Again, it's a learning experience," Amaro said. "It's the first time he's been playing every day in center field. It's bit of an adjustment period, and I think he's still going through it."
Revere is trying to remain upbeat through the inconsistencies of his first year with the Phils.
"You've still got three months left of this," Revere said. "I'm going to try to do my best to help this team make the playoffs and everything. I'm trying to get a World Series ring. Anything I can do, once you get in the playoffs, you can knock all the regular-season stuff out of the water and then start over again next year."
The trade remains an incomplete for the Twins, too. Worley started on Opening Day, but he went 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts and was demoted to Triple-A Rochester. He is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts in the Minors.
May is 5-2 with a 3.92 ERA in 12 starts with Double-A New Britain. He is striking out 8.3 batters per nine innings, but also walking 4.8 batters per nine.
But Worley and May are not the Phillies' concern. The Phils simply hope Revere can right himself and be the player they need. Whether he is a top- or bottom-of-the-lineup hitter, they just need him to play solid defense and produce enough offensively to play every day.
Revere has spoken recently to former big leaguer Mike Cameron, who played football at LaGrange (Ga.) High School for Ben's father, John. Cameron played for eight teams in his 17-year career, including three American League and five NL teams.
"He said it's tough going to different leagues," Revere said. "You're going through different pitching and everything. Guys have to go through it. He told me I'd be fine, I just have to keep my head up. It's a long season. It's not how you start, it's how you finish. I have great coaches in here that are going to help me out so I finish strong.
"If you show too much frustration, it's going to eat you up, especially in the big leagues. There will be times I want to take a bat and break a TV with it. Of course, that's baseball. But you've just got to take a deep breath. That's the way the game goes. It's all about the mental state. If you have a good mental state, then you're going to be all right. I know so many great players that I've played with when I was young in the Minor Leagues; the mental factor just killed them. You have to have that in the big leagues."
So Revere will try to remain upbeat, keep working and hope he can find some level of comfort with his new team in his new city.
The Phillies hope so, too. Regardless of where Philadelphia finishes in the NL standings, the club would like to know center field is a position it doesn't have to worry about for a few years.