Inside the Phillies: Phillies' Revere has started slowly - and so has Amaro

The Phils' Laynce Nix walks back to the dugout after striking out with two men on base to end the eighth. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
The Phils' Laynce Nix walks back to the dugout after striking out with two men on base to end the eighth. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: April 20, 2013

The Phillies' season is only 18 days and 16 games old, which is a point most likely to be made by people who have some incentive to remind us it's early.

People like Ruben Amaro Jr.

"We've played 15 games," the general manager said before Thursday's 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park, when they left the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position to end the game.

"It's 15 games," Amaro repeated. "Somebody said we still have 90 percent of the season left. You can say it's early for a long time, but at some point you have to start producing, but it's just 15 games. We'll get it going."

You know times are tough when three runs are perceived as progress on a night when the offense's streak without a walk stretched to four games and 135 plate appearances. For the record, the last walk was an intentional one to Domonic Brown in the top of the eighth inning Sunday in Miami. It has been 142 plate appearances since the Phillies last drew an unintentional walk.

But progress is progress and manager Charlie Manuel believes the 13 hits and three runs represented exactly that.

"I felt like tonight we hit the ball good, and we got runners on base," Manuel said. "That's the best we've hit in a while."

Ben Revere had reason before the game to point out that it's early in the season, too.

"We play 162 games, and we've got [146] left, so it's all about patience," the centerfielder said after learning he had been moved from first to seventh in the batting order.

Revere, ironically enough, hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, his first hit in 17 at-bats. It looked as if it might be the start of something, too, when Erik Kratz followed with a single off Cardinals closer Edward Mujica. But with men on second and third and one out, Jimmy Rollins struck out, and Freddy Galvis grounded out to end the game.

The hit boosted Revere's average to .200, still far below what Manuel is looking for from his leadoff hitter.

It's difficult to determine whether Amaro or Revere is off to a worse start for the Phillies. The two, of course, are intertwined.

Shortly after last season ended, Amaro made it clear that his top priority was filling the vacancy in center field that had been left by the trade-deadline departure of Shane Victorino.

Plenty of options sat in front of the general manager. He went with Revere, the least accomplished and least expensive of them all. The general manager was genuinely excited when he completed the Revere deal with Minnesota on the final day of the winter meetings in Nashville.

"He could hit at the top of the order or the bottom of the order," Amaro said. "We got him for his defense, but he can hit, too."

After watching Revere hit .326 with five doubles, 18 runs scored and 10 stolen bases in spring training, Manuel decided his new centerfielder should hit first in the order, the spot that had belonged mostly to Rollins for the last dozen years.

Fifteen games in, Manuel decided it wasn't too early to move Revere down in the batting order, especially with the Phillies coming off a 2-4 road trip during which they hit .205 and scored a total of 10 runs.

"I'm struggling a little bit, but trying to figure out that swing and figure out these pitchers, and I'll be rolling soon," Revere said. "It's just coming to a new league, of course you may struggle a little bit. One of the best hitters, [Albert] Pujols, kind of struggled last year."

Revere's baseball card does not have Pujols' statistics on the back, so it's hard to predict which way his season is headed. The same can be said about the Phillies.

Amaro hopes that Carlos Ruiz's return will boost the offensive production. He hopes the same about Delmon Young, another inexpensive offseason option. There has to be some concern, however, that Young will turn right field into a bigger defensive adventure than it already is. That's saying something, too, when you consider Laynce Nix's failure to make a catch Monday in Cincinnati that led to a Phillies loss and John Mayberry Jr's inexplicable fall in the fourth inning Thursday that led to two St. Louis runs.

Mike Adams, the most expensive of Amaro's offseason additions, surrendered the winning run on a solo homer by Carlos Beltran in the top of the eighth inning.

That made it official: Amaro is off to a worse start than Revere.


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @brookob.

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