Taylor entrenched atop lineup as Revere remains out
By Alex Putterman
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Sunday there is no timetable for center fielder Ben Revere's return from a right oblique strain, leaving Michael Taylor as the team's center fielder and leadoff hitter for at least the next couple of weeks. Taylor, who is hitless in 12 plate appearances so far in 2016, entered the season as the team's fourth outfielder, but he figures to appear atop the lineup card every day going forward.
"Coming in, I had a little different role, but my work doesn't change," Taylor said Sunday. "I just come in every day and try to put myself in position to do the best I can."
The 25-year-old piled up 511 plate appearances last year, mostly as a fill-in for injured Nats outfielders, and hit .229 with 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases.
While Revere is a traditional slap-hitting leadoff man, with only four career home runs, Taylor brings considerably more pop. He hit 23 homers in the Minors in 2014 and was fifth on the Nationals in long balls last year.
Manager Dusty Baker said he spoke to Taylor about staying within himself and not feeling pressure to work counts, which is often a leadoff hitter's chief responsibility.
"I told him, 'Don't worry about taking pitches and getting deep into counts. You're not that kind of hitter yet,'" Baker said. "If you see the first pitch, you jump at it."
Revere was placed on the disabled list Wednesday after feeling pain in his side during his first at-bat in the Nationals' season-opening win Monday. The outfielder said Thursday he has never dealt with an oblique injury before.
"It's just one of those freak accidents," Revere said. "I do my core workouts. I do everything, and it goes to show that it can happen to anybody."
Baker said the Nationals will treat Revere's injury aggressively, and the outfielder emphasized the need to proceed with caution and avoid aggravating the injury.
General manager Mike Rizzo said Friday that while he's confident the Nationals have the depth to withstand Revere's injury, the team will miss the center fielder's presence at the top of the order.
"We want Ben back because he's a huge part of our club," Rizzo said. "He's a catalyst, he's a leadoff man, he's an energy bunny and a guy that could make us go."
Alex Putterman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.