Phillies Notes: Sandberg may try Byrd in center; Revere sits

Posted: May 10, 2014

TORONTO - There were hints Thursday of Ryne Sandberg's discontent with Ben Revere. The manager started Tony Gwynn Jr. in center because, he said, Gwynn was better suited to oppose Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Then Sandberg revealed recent conversations with Marlon Byrd about possible time in center.

A long-term change at the position is not imminent, nor is it probable. But the Phillies are at least considering options given Revere's continued shortcomings in center.

Byrd, 36, has started 41 games there since the 2012 season. He served as the Chicago Cubs' everyday centerfielder in 2011. The Phillies are impressed with Byrd's fielding in right; he makes good reads and possesses deceptive closing speed.

Sandberg labeled him a "candidate" for center. He would not elaborate.

"I've talked to him about it," Sandberg said. "And he likes playing center field."

Revere did not catch an Edwin Encarnacion triple Wednesday that struck the base of the wall and ignited a nine-run Toronto bludgeoning. Sandberg criticized Revere; he said the centerfielder "gave up" on a "catchable ball."

"It won't happen again," Revere said. "You learn from your mistakes. I have to get back there and make the catch. That's on me."

The Phillies, though, have harbored concerns about Revere's center-field defense since last season. Sandberg hedged last September about Revere's future role. Scouting reports chastise Revere's arm, and teams routinely take extra bases on balls hit to center.

"I'd say that he's made some strides, made some improvements," Sandberg said. "He's worked from Day 1 on creating better arm strength and better throwing fundamentals. That's come a long way. He's got more carry on his ball. . . . He continues to work on the fundamentals of getting good jumps on balls."

Revere, 26, entered Thursday's action with a .277 batting average but just a .289 on-base percentage, which ranked among the worst for leadoff hitters across baseball. He played more right field than center in 2012 with Minnesota before being traded to Philadelphia.

The Phillies have various possible outfield alignments, although none are optimal, especially with Domonic Brown's prolonged offensive and defensive struggles. Darin Ruf started an official rehab assignment Thursday with single-A Clearwater and could add another body to the mix of Gwynn and John Mayberry Jr.

Garcia returns

The Phillies recalled righthander Luis Garcia, who had not allowed an earned run as triple-A Lehigh Valley's closer. They outrighted veteran Shawn Camp in a bullpen shuffle.

Camp, 38, faced 15 batters and permitted seven hits. He has 72 hours to accept a minor-league assignment or elect free agency. His removal put the Phillies at 39 players on the 40-man roster.

Sandberg said double-A flamethrower Kenny Giles was not considered for promotion.

Extra bases

Jimmy Rollins (right groin soreness) served as designated hitter for the second straight night. He could return to shortstop Friday in New York. . . . The Phillies allowed nine or more runs in an inning Wednesday for the first time since July 26, 2008, against Atlanta. . . . The second game of a day-night doubleheader against the Braves on June 28, originally scheduled for April 15, will move to 7:15 p.m. as part of a Fox national broadcast.

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