Ben Revere received news about his trade to the Nationals around 10:15 p.m. Friday night, just as he was preparing to get to bed for offseason workouts the next morning. New Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins, who Revere had yet to meet, called to tell the 27-year-old outfielder he was going to Washington in a trade that netted Toronto longtime Nationals reliever Drew Storen. Revere likely slots in as the Nationals starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Making his first comments since the trade, Revere talked to Washington reporters Monday on a conference call. Below are his answers to questions, some abbreviated for brevity.
What was his reaction to trade?
“It’s really nice, you know, kind of knew some of those guys, playing against those guys with the Phillies; you got Dusty Baker, know about him a lot, of course, watched him a lot watching baseball and playing against him coaching for the Reds. But it’s just a blessing having this opportunity to get to this great ballclub with great guys over there.
“As for what my role will be, just same guy I’ve always been: leadoff guy, get on base, be ready to get on base for people to hit me in and keep making plays in the outfield. That’s part of my game, and nothing is going to change about that.”
Revere has spent 405 of his 645 career games in center field. He played most of 2015 in left field, but has also played in right in the past. Despite his speed, some advanced defensive metrics don’t rate him well. How does he evaluate his own defense, particularly in center?
“It’s always good if you can play all three positions, in my opinion, as a player. No matter what the situation, injury comes up and one player feels more comfortable in center; you can go either or, left or right, but it’s good to be the type of player who can play every single position. In my opinion, [Bryce] Harper can do it, maybe [Jayson] Werth, [Michael A.] Taylor, some of those guys all can do it.
“But that said, of course, mostly as a center fielder. Do I feel comfortable out there? Yes. But I feel comfortable playing left or right always. Just the way I am. … I’m hopefully out there trying to help get the club a win, no matter where they’re playing me, you know I’m going to go out there and bust my tail and give it everything I can to help the guys win and bring home a victory.”
Revere was drafted in the first round in 2007 by the Twins. He spent parts of three seasons with them in the majors. He spent two and a half seasons with the Phillies before a July trade to Toronto. What does he know about the Nationals clubhouse?
“Definitely trying to get back to, helping these guys get back to the playoffs. I know last year, you know, was a big disappointment for them, you know. … I know they have a lot of great guys in there, of course. I faced them all. Their starting rotation, of course some of the hitters and everything. The Nationals, they do a great job as an organization preparing those guys to come up for the big leagues to the big show and no matter if it’s a position guy or a pitcher, they call somebody up, they’re ready to roll and help this ballclub and [hopefully win] the division and get back to the playoffs. But, right now, I know already that every single guy in there, they were ticked off with how the season ended. They want to get back to the playoffs and hopefully bring a championship back to D.C.”
Revere and former Nationals center fielder Denard Span are close friends from their time with the Twins. Revere came up behind Span in Minnesota and now potentially replaces him in Washington. Have the two talked yet about the Nationals since the trade?
“Actually, I have not, he’s been busy a bit with everything on his side. But I’m pretty sure when we have time to talk, we will. But no, he was like a big brother when he was playing with the Twins, and when he got traded to D.C. and I got traded to Philly, he liked it. He definitely liked the organization, the people, they treated him really well and everything. He had no bad thing to say about the organization and the people working in the front office and even the fans.”
“He said — and I even know just going to that ballpark — I’d say it’s probably one of my favorites to play at. Beautiful scenery, the crowds pack that place out — especially on the weekends, just pack it out — just rocking from first pitch to the last. … I would say those are large shoes to fill [with Span]. He definitely helped me grow up as a baseball player, I’d say, and having that first postseason experience this year with the Blue Jays really helped out. I know, going into it, how it’s going to be. But I think Denard he really kind of prepared me … just go in there and do what I do best and let the rest take care of itself.”
What will it be like to play with Harper?
“Bryce, he’s a great guy, of course, the MVP. I’ve been watching him for a long time, definitely one of the top guys. Him, [Mike] Trout, all those guys, top hitters. I know I’ll get over there, I’ll be like, ‘Man, I’ll just try to get you a lot of RBIs so you can win back-to-back MVPs.’ Of course, him and Werth, they’re such great hitters. They each drive the ball, hit it way out of the park. They make my job easier. All you got to do is get in scoring position, which, you know, main thing is get on base — base hit, walk, error, doesn’t matter, just get on — get in scoring position and let those guys do the work. Whatever I do is just to help those guys get their RBI stats up, that’s all I want to do.”
What’s your ideal spot in the lineup? Leadoff?
“I’d probably say either third or fourth. (Laughing.) Leadoff is cool for me. Honestly, with my game as a contact hitter, pulling the ball or driving the ball the other way, just trying get on base and score. Top of the lineup or bottom of the lineup. Anyway I can help my team win. As long as I’m in the lineup, it doesn’t matter. Let’s see what Dusty wants to do. No preference. Whatever makes the team better. If I have to bat ninth, just to make the team better; if we have like two leadoff guys up — kind did that with the Blue Jays for a good minute and we were winning games — we can do that. But if they want me leadoff, I’ll go leadoff. I’ll see what they want to do. But with me, they can put me anywhere in the lineup and I’d be fine.”
You make a lot of contact, doesn’t strike out much, hit for average but don’t draw many walks or hit for much power. How would you describe your offensive approach?
“I’m a line drive hitter. I may hit one or two home runs, who knows. I’ve heard from coaches, ‘Leave that to the big boys. You get doubles, triples? Cool. Singles? That’s great. Your stolen bases are your doubles and triples. Use that to your advantage.’ Another thing: Pitchers know I’m a base stealer. It comes to a point where they walk those guys they don’t want to throw anywhere around the plate; they can’t throw no fastballs because if they do they crush it out of the park. But if they do throw a breaking ball, it’s got to be a perfect breaking ball because if they hang it it’s going to get crushed or I can steal a bag and now they’re in more trouble because I’m in scoring position.”
What improvements do you want to make in 2016?
“My bunting game. This offseason, I’ve been working on my bunting and trying to get that down pat. That’s my advantage of course. Definitely my throwing and some defense. Got to definitely try and get a Gold Glove. My arm is getting stronger each and every year as I get older in this game. … With the Phillies, Jimmy Rollins told me he’s still learning the game and he’s been in the league 15 years or more. Kind of crazy. But he’s still learning so I’ve got a long way to go in the game. Each and every year I’m getting [better] mentally in learning the high points and low points.”
Your throwing arm is considered weak. Is your lack of arm strength due to an injury?
“I do crash into a bunch of walls all the time. It’s just getting the strength back sometimes. In the minor leagues, I did crash into walls and had shoulder problems, but it’s getting better and everything. I’m not a big man so I don’t have the arm like Bryce Harper or some of those guys. I get my few type of deals where I get my five, six outfield assists. My main thing, my coaches always told me coming up, just throw it right to the cutoff man. You do your job right just throw it to the cutoff man then if you try and launch one and the runner advances. … The type of deal that’s frustrating because you know you want to launch a ball to get the out but you gotta listen to your coaches and throw it right to the cutoff man and do your job right. Every offseason, I’ve been working and working on it and I believe it’s getting better and better overall.”
How did your playing for a division title and your first playoff experience with the Blue Jays help you?
“I know you don’t get no days off. Just practice and practice. And everything is going 100 miles an hour. Pitchers pitch you differently. It’s a fun experience. Definitely high-pressure points. You think you’re doing good but of course you’ve got fans and media all over you. Of course, if you’re struggling or something, they’re going to exploit you. That’s part of the game. Coming out of it, I could of done better with the Blue Jays. I think I could. But overall, I think I did really well handling myself and doing the job I’ve been doing. Your first playoff experience is something special. It definitely is. I know how it goes, I know what to expect. And now going forward in the future time, hopefully with these guys, we get back to the playoffs and I know what to expect. All I can see is that place packed out coming November, October and hopefully bringing a trophy or championship back to D.C.”
Chelsea Janes contributed to this report.