ANAHEIM — Last season Ben Revere learned how to not play.
A starter throughout his big league career, when Revere got hurt and lost his job last year with the Washington Nationals in 2016, the other veteran bench players helped him learn how to adjust to his new role.
Now, the Angels are reaping the rewards, as Revere has proven to be a valuable pinch-hitter. His pinch hit on Tuesday night was his third in his last six attempts, lifting his average to .292 in 24 at-bats this season.
“It’s the toughest thing to do,” Revere said. “The main thing is to just keep yourself ready. From the start of the season, I knew what my role is. I just gotta keep myself ready. I’m definitely feeling good.”
Last season, Revere lost his everyday job and then was just 2 for 15 as a pinch-hitter.
“When I lost my job, I was mad,” Revere said. “I wanted to be out there every day to help my team win. The guys who are usually bench guys showed me the ropes and told me what to do. I learned to never get surprised. Always stay ready, no matter what.”
Revere, 29, now has a routine for the games he’s not starting. Early in the game he runs sprints on the rubber mats that line the tunnels under the stands at Angel Stadium.
As the game wears on, he moves into the cage to take some swings. He faces the pitching machine, to see game-speed velocity and breaking balls. He said he also watches film regularly so he’s ready for whatever pitcher he might face.
“You just make sure you keep your rhythm,” Revere said. “That’s the main thing.”
Revere said he got his rhythm this season when injuries to Mike Trout and Cameron Maybin allowed him to get regular playing time during the middle of the season.
He also said he rediscovered the swing that he lost when he tore his oblique last year.
After hitting .217 in 2016, Revere was hitting .203 with a .213 on-base percentage on June 18 this season. Since then, he’s hit .327 with a .379 on-base percentage over a span of 161 plate appearances. He hasn’t started a single game in September, but he still had five hits in 12 at-bats.
“Now I’m going the other way and up the middle on a consistent basis,” Revere said. “Breaking balls and changeups, I have enough juice to hit a line drive the other way. Last year I couldn’t do that. I’d pop everything up to left field. …
“I have the confidence back. I feel like I have my swing back.”
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