By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—If you want to get an indication of how far Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere has bounced back from a broken ankle, just watch him fly around the outfield, running down fly-balls and making the spectacular catch.
As fast on his feet as he is, Revere doesn’t get to every ball in the field and is prone to take some bad routes to the ball at times. But his speed and hustle certainly gives him a chance to get there and take away an extra-base hit.
“That’s something he’s working on a daily basis—whether it’s routes or getting good jumps,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “I remember last year for about a month, he just had to adapt to see the ball off the bat in the different stadiums and I saw a lot of improvement as the season went on. He’s working at it. His throwing has gotten better.”
In Wednesday’s night game against the Brewers, Revere made a spectacular diving grab of ball hit by Milwaukee second baseman Scooter Gennett. In the eighth inning, Revere came within inches of diving and catching up to what turned out to be Ryan Braun’s three-run triple that broke open a tie game.
“I’m always going to go 110 percent after a ball and so I’m going to make the best catch I can,” Revere said before Thursday’s series-finale against Milwaukee Brewers. “The two balls I missed (Wednesday’s game) I was probably about an inch from catching the damn thing.
“Sometimes when I get close to it and dive it tips out of my glove and I miss it. Sometimes as an outfielder you want to be smart about it. It’s a mental aspect, should I go after this or do I make sure it’s not an extra-base hit?”
After missing the second half of last season, Revere has bounced back well this season on offense as well. He came into Thursday’s night’s game batting .324 and has a .359 on-base percentage. He has scored seven runs and has five stolen bases. Since May 1, 2013, Revere has batted .344 in his last 73 games.
While rehabilitating his foot, Revere said he spent a lot of time of working on his hitting, watching video and working on his swing. He stayed in Philadelphia and spent the offseason fine-tuning his hitting. He also spent some time working out at the Phillies spring training home in Clearwater, Fla.
“I’m reading the ball well. When I broke my ankle last year, I had a lot of time off to re-learn my swing and putting everything into perspective,” Revere said. “I was looking at film and looking at my swings and that helped me out.”
During spring training, Revere batted .294 and had a .338 on-base percentage with six runs batted and six stolen bases. Sandberg said his good spring has continued into the first nine games of the regular season.
“He’s a sparkplug at the top of the order with the way he’s staying on top of the ball and utilizing his speed,” Sandberg said. “He’s stealing bases and he’s a threat to score runs once he gets on. He’s got the ability to be a sparkplug type of player. He gives the team a spark offensively and defensively.”
If there’s a knock on the 5-foot-9 Revere during his short tenure with the Phillies is that he is not going to knock the ball out of the park on a regular basis. In his three seasons at the major league level, Revere doesnot have a homerun. He has five career homers at the minor league level.
In Tuesday’s home opener, Revere did hit a ball to the warning track in left center, but that’s as far as it got as the wind kept it in the park. In any event, Revere said he is comfortable with the idea that no one’s going to confuse him with Hank Aaron or even his slugging teammate Ryan Howard.
“For me to stay up here, I’m just trying to hit that sucker, line drives,” said Revere, whose walk-up to theplate music is Pharell Williams’ hit song, “Happy.”
“I’m not trying to go for it all and trying to hit a homerun. If I hit out, hey, praise the Lord. But if not, I’ll go the rest of the year or my career and not hit a home run.”