Phillies Notes: Revere is struggling; so are other centerfielders

Phillies center fielder Ben Revere. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies center fielder Ben Revere. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 03, 2013

CLEVELAND - Minutes before the Indians were required to stretch, Michael Bourn pulled on his uniform pants and tapped on his smartphone Wednesday. This represented his action for the day, as he is stranded on the disabled list.

Across Progressive Field, Ben Revere prepared for another game. The 24-year-old outfielder entered play Wednesday with the third-worst on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.456) in baseball. He dropped from first to ninth in the Phillies lineup in the span of two weeks.

"We knew that he hit .294" last season, manager Charlie Manuel said. "We knew that. And we also knew that he hit mostly second. We'll see. He's had a hard time getting going. We just have to keep staying with him and see if we can't get him playing better."

Revere was not the team's first choice to play center this past winter. The Phillies courted numerous free agents and explored other trades. After one month, Revere's offensive production was disappointing. So, too, were the Aprils for three of the Phillies' targets - Bourn, B.J. Upton, and Angel Pagan.

Bourn, the former Phillie who signed a $48 million deal with Cleveland, has not played since April 14. He needed five stitches to repair a cut to his right index finger that has prevented him from even taking batting practice. Before the injury, however, he hit .333 with a .975 OPS in 10 games.

Upton signed for $75 million in Atlanta and was upstaged by his brother, Justin, during April. B.J. Upton hit .143 with a .500 OPS and nearly a third of his plate appearances resulted in a strikeout.

Pagan, a $45 million man in San Francisco, had a mediocre month. He hit .275 but with little power. His OPS in April was .652.

So while the Phillies expected more of Revere (a $515,000 expenditure in 2013) and surrendered two young pitchers to acquire him in a trade, their rationale for not spending big money on a centerfielder looked prescient. Of course, this is why the baseball season is six months and not one.

Manuel does not see a player who can drastically change his offensive approach. Because of his skill-set, Revere is limited.

He had 43 infield hits in 2012, or one every 13 plate appearances. He had five, one in every 19 plate appearances, in 2013 entering Wednesday's game.

"For him to be the offensive player that we think, he has to have a high on-base percentage, and he'll have to get some infield hits and stuff," Manuel said.

"His approach is going to be hard to change. Unless he just bunts a lot."

D. Young stays at DH

Manuel arrived at the ballpark Wednesday with the intent of putting Delmon Young in right field during a major-league game for the first time in six years. But Young was plunked by a pitch on his right (throwing) arm in Tuesday's 14-2 drubbing.

It was still sore Wednesday.

"I was planning on putting him out there, then I had to change it," Manuel said.

The soreness did not prevent Young from serving as designated hitter. That luxury disappears Thursday, when the Phillies return home to National League rules.

Manuel said it may take "a couple days" for the soreness to subside. The manager wanted Young to have a chance to play right field before the team headed home.

"Our reports said he was moving good," Manuel said, "that he made all the plays he's supposed to make. We'll see."

On-base-plus-slugging (OPS) is a statistic that adds a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The major-league average in 2012 was .724.

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