Phillies' Revere better-armed on defense

Posted: April 04, 2014

CHICAGO - Thanks to a new pitching coach, a former infielder converted to the outfield, a couple of new teammates and a commitment to improve his overall game, Ben Revere is showing off an improved arm from centerfield in 2014.

In his first season with the Phillies, Revere struggled from the plate at the outset of the 2013 season. He hit .200 last April before breaking out and batting .347 in 65 games from May 1 until the time he went on the disabled list in mid-July with a broken foot.

But in his abbreviated first year with the Phillies, Revere consistently showed the lack of adequate arm strength from his new position in centerfield.

Revere, acquired two Decembers ago in the trade that sent Vance Worley to Minnesota, was moving from right to center in replacing Shane Victorino in the middle of the Phillies' outfield. Criticism of his arm wasn't new, however.

"They've been saying that since I got to Minnesota when I was first drafted, that I don't have the best arm strength," said Revere, 25.

In the time since the injury ended his first season in Philadelphia prematurely, Revere has put in the time to improve that skill set.

He regularly worked out with first-base coach and outfield instructor Juan Samuel in Clearwater this spring when outfielders took extra work before the regularly scheduled workouts began at 9 a.m.

Before their work began this spring, Samuel scanned video to try to find something that might tip off why Revere wasn't getting as much as he could on his throws.

Samuel saw the grip - Revere's right thumb was on the side of the baseball, rather than below it - and passed along the info to Revere and manager Ryne Sandberg.

"He was throwing it almost like a football," Sandberg said. "That's all been cleaned up and it's gone a long way."

The Phillies also summoned first-year pitching coach Bob McClure for help, since he's obviously trained to get the most out of arms. McClure offered that Revere wasn't getting both shoulders aligned in his throwing motion, and often not using his front shoulder at all.

"It's like [Dodgers outfielder] Carl Crawford - they don't use their front side," McClure said. "If you ever watch Carl Crawford throw a baseball, he throws with his glove down [toward his knee]. There's no equal-opposite. When there's equal-opposite, you have something to throw against and the ball carries."

Revere said he likely fell into bad habits over time. But now he has Samuel on watch, constantly, critiquing his every throw with a keen eye trained on the outfielder's grip and shoulders.

Samuel also has a couple of helpers in fellow Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Tony Gwynn Jr., who worked alongside Revere this spring and continue to do so since the season began this week.

"[Byrd] told me he had the exact same problem when he was drafted," Revere said. "He's been helping me out a lot. That's really helped, especially with me and him throwing all the time in the outfield, he'll tell me if he sees something."

After doing an ample amount of long toss during his time rehabbing from last year's injury and again during his offseason program this winter, along with implementing the structural changes this spring, Revere and the coaching staff have seen improvement.

"He told me [this spring] he could already feel it," said Samuel, the former second baseman who moved to centerfield in his last season with the Phillies. "He said, 'Watch out, I'm going to throw some guys out this year.' "

Just as Revere isn't going to hit many home runs in his career - he has zero in 1,415 career plate appearances - he isn't going to suddenly turn into Domonic Brown and become a throwing threat from the outfield. His game is built on speed, not strength.

But through the work he's done, Revere should have an improved arm from center, which should pay dividends. Revere saw it himself on Opening Day, when he threw a strike toward home in an attempt to nab Texas' J.P. Arencibia in the fifth inning; the ball was cut off by first baseman Ryan Howard.

"That throw," Samuel said, "it wasn't floating. It was straight [to the plate]."

With continued work, keeping his arm strong through regular long tossing, Revere is likely to throw out a runner at home before long this season. Revere has just four assists to home plate in his career (345 games).

"He's worked at it," Sandberg said. "It was a priority coming in with him, to improve on that. But now he has a program he follows and it's really showing in the games."

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