PHILADELPHIA — In the span of 120 minutes on Thursday, two major league outfielders found new homes on two different coasts.
Josh Hamilton, the prize of the free-agent market and apple of many a Philadelphia Phillies fan's eye, agreed to a five-year, $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Hamilton got a Ryan Howard-sized contract to join a formidable lineup that includes Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.
Ben Revere, a player many Phillies fans hadn't heard of 10 days ago, arrived at the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park for the first time less than two hours after the Hamilton news broke. Revere is seven years younger than Hamilton, doesn't have an MVP trophy or All-Star credentials and will make a little more than the major league minimum salary in 2013.
The Lexington Catholic High School graduate also has never hit a home run in more than a thousand major league plate appearances.
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"I'm going to hit 50 this year," Revere joked.
Revere is not Josh Hamilton and he won't pretend to be.
But on a day when he pulled off an impressive South Philly trifecta — checked into Citizens Bank Park, enjoyed a cheesesteak lunch and took in an Eagles game at the Linc — Revere appeared more than comfortable in his own skin and his place on an already star-studded Phillies team.
"(Cole) Hamels is just filthy. Disgusting," Revere said, after a string of former Cy Young and MVP-winning teammates were rattled off for him. "This is going to be a lot of fun playing with these guys and playing behind him ... Those guys look at me and say, 'Catch the balls out there and help me win another Cy Young.' That's why they wanted me, to cover ground out there. Hopefully, I make our offense that much more dangerous. I'll try to prove that."
Just over a week ago, Revere thought he would be continuing to prove himself as a big-leaguer in Minneapolis.
Although Revere's agent told him earlier this off-season that he had heard Atlanta was interested in trading for him, that uncertainty dancing through his head subsided when his Twins teammate, center fielder Denard Span, was traded to Washington and Atlanta followed by signing free agent B.J. Upton. It felt like a lock that he would move over to center field at Target Field.
But then the Phillies trade went down. On a scale of one through 10, Revere categorized his surprise as "15 out of 10."
"The Phillies kind of came from nowhere," Revere said. "I know the Phillies have the money where they can go out and get anybody. The chance to play center field for them, I was shocked but motivated and honored to be with such a great organization with great people. I want to help this team get back to the playoffs and get to the World Series."
When Revere first heard from his new bosses — Manager Charlie Manuel and General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. — the instructions were simple: Be yourself and play your game.
Revere's is a speed game: He is a plus defender in center field and he creates havoc when he reaches base.
He was successful in 74 of 92 stolen-base attempts in the last two years. After hitting .267 with a .310 on-base percentage as a rookie in 2011, Revere hit .294 with a .333 OBP in 2012.
But he understands his limits, too.
"When I hit pop flies in Minnesota, they got mad at me," Revere said, sounding like the fictional Willie Mays Hayes. "That will be the same way over here. My mom got mad at me if I hit pop flies. I've got to hit ground balls — that's how a player like me succeeds in the major leagues."
With his speed, Revere knows ground balls increase his chances to get on base. He doesn't try to hit the ball in the air because, with his lack of power, it doesn't tend to travel very far.
In 254 games, Revere has 33 extra-base hits.
"I always hit it to the deepest part of the park," Revere said, enjoying some self-deprecating humor regarding his homerless streak. "Hopefully here, I'll get that big, old gust of wind and push it 5 feet further. I'll be doing cartwheels on the bases."
The Phillies didn't get Hamilton, the guy who wows crowds regularly with majestic home runs. They got the guy who instead dreams of hitting his first.