We’re now nearly four months into the six-month baseball season, and Ben Revere’s batting average remains a paltry .214, his on-base percentage an equally paltry .258.
It’s the time of year when struggling players often start worrying about job security, and Revere may well need to be thinking in those terms.
Dusty Baker, though, did his part today to offer his struggling leadoff man some words of encouragement and reason to believe his job isn’t in jeopardy at this point.
“I’m hoping, because we need Ben,” Baker said. “We need him badly. He’s our igniter.”
Revere is once again leading off and starting in center field tonight for the Nationals against the Padres, hoping this is the night that finally gets him going for the first time in 2016.
A career .295 hitter when the Nationals acquired him over the winter from the Blue Jays for reliever Drew Storen, Revere has born little-to-no resemblance to that guy while wearing a curly W uniform. His batting average has never topped .230 this season, his on-base percentage never climbing above .276.
Over his last nine games, Revere is just 3-for-29, with two of the hits coming via home run and triple. He has only walked once in that span. Baker wonders if the 28-year-old is coping with his struggles as well as he can.
“Probably not too well lately,” the manager said. “Because you see the season weighing down and you’re still in the low-.200s. And you’re not used to that. He’ll tell you: ‘I’m a .300 hitter,’ but you’ve got to seriously, seriously, deep down inside believe that. It might be too late to hit .300, but you don’t know. You can get hot, and you hope you get hot as this weather gets hot.”
Baker also wonders if the oblique strain Revere suffered on his very first swing of the season - he wound up spending on a month on the disabled list - continues to haunt him today. Not because he believes Revere is still injured, but because the injury put him in a defensive mode from the outset.
“I think he’s healthy,” Baker said. “I questioned that myself, but like I told you, when you start the season hurt, you’re playing catch-up the whole time. We would have hoped he’d have caught up by now, but for guys that I’ve seen that start the season (injured) ... it makes for a long year. You’re playing catch-up.”
Update: Revere did play a significant role in the Nationals scoring their first run of tonight’s game. He drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the third, then went first-to-third on Jayson Werth’s single to left-center (a hit that extended Werth’s streak of consecutive games reaching base to 27). That put Revere in position to score on Daniel Murphy’s sacrifice fly line drive to deep right field, giving the Nats their lone run so far off Edwin Jackson.
Unfortunately, the Padres have a pair of runs off Max Scherzer, both coming on Ryan Schimpf’s towering, second-inning homer into the second deck down the right field line. It was Scherzer’s league-leading 22nd homer allowed this season, though he had given up only one in his previous four starts. So, after three innings, the Nationals trail 2-1.
Update II: This game is now tied, 2-2, after five innings thanks to (who else?) Revere. Danny Espinosa’s leadoff double in the bottom of the fifth set the stage. Revere then roped an RBI double down the right field line to bring him home. The Nationals were in position to take the lead, but after the Padres pitched around Murphy to bring Harper to the plate in a big spot, the reigning MVP popped up on the first pitch he saw. Harper is just not giving the Nats consistent quality at-bats right now, and it’s a problem. To the sixth they go in a 2-2 ballgame.
Update III: It’s still 2-2 after seven, and Scherzer ended his night with a bang. He struck out the side in the top of the seventh, giving him 10 strikeouts for the game (without any walks). It’s the eighth time in the last two seasons Scherzer has struck out at least 10 without walking anybody. Only Clayton Kershaw (11) has done it more times. Impressive stuff. Not as impressive: The Nats lineup, which still can’t push across the go-ahead run. We go the eighth.
Update IV: Nats win. Nats win. Stephen Drew, getting his first at-bat in six days after battling flu-like symptoms, drove a triple to the right-centerfield gap with one out in the bottom of the ninth, scoring Anthony Rendon from first and giving the Nats a 3-2 victory.