CHICAGO - Ben Revere awoke this morning to a text from his agent, Barry Meister, that contained a simple-yet-significant message: "Second opening day of the season!"
Suffice it to say, Revere is just a bit fired up to be back in the Nationals lineup after straining his right oblique muscle on his very first swing of the season.
"I'm real happy," he said. "It was kind of a bummer missing the first month of the season, with the team doing so well without you. The chemistry in that locker room is just great. Everybody was texting me down in Syracuse, seeing how I was feeling, each day with an update. It's a blessing to be back. I can't wait to get back out there with the guys."
Activated off the 15-day disabled list earlier this morning, Revere was inserted right back into manager Dusty Baker's lineup, leading off and playing center field. He'll be asked to make an immediate difference, setting the table for a lineup that has sorely missed him for the last month.
"I hope that Ben comes in and makes an impact," Baker said. "If he doesn't, we've got to give him time to get his stuff back together."
Revere played in only five rehab games with Triple-A Syracuse, going 3-for-16 with a walk and a stolen base. He feels like he's ready to step right in and produce, but he also acknowledges he's traditionally a slow starter when healthy.
"It really kind of depends. But come May, right after my birthday, that's when I start clicking a little bit," he said. "It happens every year. I don't know, April is just not the best month for me. I don't know why. I just crush the ball right at people. But usually May I'll be good. But I'm just feeling so ready to go and confident coming out of spring training, I think right out of the gate I'll be good to go."
Revere indeed typically struggles early in the season. His career April batting average (.241) and on-base percentage (.274) are his worst of any month, but those numbers increase in May (.287, .318) and really take off in June (.325, .356).
The question now is whether May will actually be like May for Revere, or whether (given the long layoff) it will be more like April.
"Hopefully I'll be able to do what I did in spring training," said Revere, who hit .429 in the Grapefruit League this year. "Hopefully I can fire this team up, try to score some runs for them. ... My main thing is just: Hit the ball on the ground, get on first, steal second, score runs. That's all I'm going to do."
Revere also vowed not to ease his way into things after a month off, insisting he needs to stay true to himself and his playing style.
"I told them I'm going all-out," he said. "I don't care. I know there's no padding on that wall. But anything hit to the fence, I'm going right through it, right through the ivy."
To make room for Revere on the active roster, the Nationals optioned fellow outfielder Matt den Dekker to Syracuse. Michael A. Taylor also gets shifted into the bench role he was expected to hold at the start of the season.
Whether Taylor, who is hitting .186 with a .222 on-base percentage and team-high 32 strikeouts, is able to right his wayward ship in a non-starting role remains to be seen.
"Everybody wants to play," Baker said. "If anything, there's going to be tension because you're seeing your kind of go by and you're still on the Interstate so to speak (hitting under .200). If anything, you've got to wait your turn, because Mike, he had a heck of an opportunity to take the job. Because there's a lot of people that lost jobs because of injury. Didn't happen, so we've got to wait until the next opportunity."
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