Five batting gloves were tossed in the direction of seven kids clamoring for autographs in the picnic area outside the Phillies clubhouse at Bright House Field.
“I never saw that before,” a fan cried after Ben Revere gave the children unexpected gifts on the first day of spring training.
There’s something else that Revere provides that Phillies fans haven’t seen for a long time — a genuine slap hitter who strikes out about as often as Ryan Howard tries to go the other way.
Revere whiffed just 54 times in 511 at-bats last season with the Minnesota Twins.
“My job is to get the bat on the ball,” Revere said. “That’s what I do. I have to get on base so these big guys, like Chase Utley, Michael Young, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown can drive me in.”
Revere, 24, is a young Juan Pierre. The speedy center fielder has a perpetual smile on his face, the sort that Jimmy Rollins sported during his salad days. Revere, who stole 40 bases last season, is playful, funny and accommodating.
He often wears a T-shirt with the word ‘Reckless’ under his uniform. That’s the way he plays center. He goes after the ball with total abandon and has already made a number of fine catches during the first week of Grapefruit League games.
“That’s my job,” Revere said. “I’m here to play the best center field possible. I’m going to be out there trying to save runs and be aggressive on the base paths. I’m trying to save runs, score runs and win ballgames.”
Revere, who has been good about mixing it up with the kids by inking baseballs and giving away pieces of his equipment, is a healthy bet to become a fan favorite.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I was a kid so if anybody can relate to the kids hanging out, it should be me. I’m about the youngest guy on the team and I remember what it was like to be 13 or 14 years old loving baseball. I’m one of the lucky ones who made it.
“I’m all about giving something back, whether it’s a batting glove or even better yet, a game-winning base hit. I love to play. You’ll see that this year. The fans in Philadelphia probably won’t have an idea of what I’m like until next month, unless you come down here.”
Speed pass: Looking at Phillies that could fly
» Juan Samuel: He may not look like someone that could fly going from first to third, but Samuel could move. Back in the day, Harry Kalas would scream, “Run, Sammy, run!” as the Phillies’ third base coach would round third.
» Lonnie Smith: One of the more exciting base stealers in Phillies history. Smith was great — as long as he stayed on his feet.
» Jimmy Rollins: Believe it or not, Rollins has the most stolen bases in franchise history at 403, which is good for 71st all-time. J-Roll’s talent at the plate, and in the field, overshadows how successful he’s been on the base paths.