MINNEAPOLIS — When Lexington Catholic graduate Ben Revere was hit in the face with a pitch a little more than a month ago, he thought the major leagues would have to wait until 2011.
After all, doctors told the prized Twins outfield prospect and 2007 Kentucky Mr. Baseball that he would miss four to six weeks after a pitch broke the orbital bone on the right side of his face on Aug. 3.
But Revere walked into the Twins' Target Field clubhouse shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday, a big-leaguer for the first time. With his contract having been acquired from Double-A New Britain, the 22-year-old Revere was all smiles as he was congratulated by Twins players.
"I thought I would go back home and get ready for the (Arizona) Fall League and spring training next year," Revere said. "I never in a million years thought this would be happening."
But a little more than three weeks after being hit — Revere said his mom describes him as a fast healer — the speedster returned to action. In the eight games since his return to the Rock Cats, Revere had 13 hits in 34 at bats (.382) with a pair of triples.
Just as important, Revere again got comfortable at the plate. In one of his first games back, Revere quickly learned that he can't be timid in the box.
"We were playing Redding and we were going against a lefty. He almost hit me and I thought, 'Here we go again,' " Revere said. "Then he threw a slider and made me look stupid. After that, I was like if I get hit there again, it's part of the game."
That Revere came back and looked like his old self was a big part of why the Twins were comfortable making the move.
"He's playing great," Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just talked to (New Britain manager) Jeff Smith again today and even after he got hit with the pitch he came back and has shown no effects at all. Playing great defense. He's been playing fantastic baseball, defense and offense."
Gardenhire was particularly pleased to see Revere. For more than a week, Gardenhire has lobbied General Manager Bill Smith to get the Twins minor-league player of the year in 2008 and '09 on the big-league roster.
"He'll be able to help us do a lot of different things," Gardenhire said. "We know he can hit, we know he can run the ball down and can run the bases. He'll help us. We need that extra outfielder right now. ... He covers a lot of ground."
With Michael Cuddyer at first base for the injured Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel just returning to the lineup on Sunday after missing four straight games with a bruised left wrist, Jason Repko was the lone backup for all three outfield spots.
While Revere, a first-round pick in the 2007 draft, has played primarily center field in the outfield, he will likely see more action in left field down the stretch. The Twins already have Denard Span in center field, and Revere could serve as a late-game defensive substitution for Delmon Young.
Revere spent much of spring training with the Twins and didn't look out of place. Throughout his time in the minors, Revere has been a consistent hitter. He flirted with .400 for much of the 2008 season before finishing at .379 for Class A Beloit. He followed that up by hitting .311 at Class A Fort Meyers, and he hit .305 this season with the Rock Cats.
"Sure, he's going to slap the ball around," Gardenhire said. "But he'll surprise you with some power. He can drive a baseball, too."
While it seemed inevitable that Revere was going to reach the big leagues, the timing certainly caught him off guard.
"When I got hit in the face, I thought it was over, I thought my season was done," Revere said. "It's a blessing. I just want to help the team however I can."