MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere are both center fielders at heart. The problem is, only one of them can roam center field on any given day. For 2012, that’s been Span’s job.
As a result, Revere has been the Twins’ everyday right fielder, covering plenty of ground in the process. On Monday, he and Span showed just how valuable it can be to have two true center fielders roaming the outfield grass at the same time.
Revere’s highlight catch came first in Monday’s game, at it appeared to be a game-changing play in the first inning. Revere robbed Baltimore’s Adam Jones with runners on first and second and nobody out to prevent a run from scoring. Revere covered plenty of ground before diving and extending to make the play as the ball hooked toward the first base line.
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Revere has made so many plays like that since breaking into the majors that they almost appear routine for him.
“Those aren’t easy plays,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The ball’s slicing away from you, the sun at that time of the day is really tough out in right field. He does make things look easy, but they’re not.”
Not to be outdone, Span turned in a few memorable catches of his own. He first took a hit away from Orioles second baseman Steve Tolleson for the final out of the sixth inning, sliding feet first into left-center field for the grab. One inning later, Span backtracked to the wall in left-center and crashed into the fence, taking extra bases away from former teammate J.J. Hardy.
Span wasn’t about to let Revere steal all of the spotlight with his glove.
“I told him, I said, ‘Hey, you’re killing me out here, man,'” Span said of Revere. “Every time I tried to make a catch he turns around and dives and flips. He’s killing me on the Web Gems. I can’t let him do me like that. You’ve got to let the old man get in there once in a while.”
Both of Span’s plays resulted in nice catches Monday, but he said the catch at the wall had a higher degree of difficultys.
“Normally I get to the wall, and I get a little stage fright, a little scared,” said Span, who suffered a concussion last season and played in only 70 games in 2011. “Sliding catches, I do that more often. So that was definitely one that I liked the best out of the two.”
The one knock on Revere as an outfielder has been his below-average arm strength. Despite that fact, Revere’s speed allows him to cover enough ground to make up for that. He can get to balls in the corners and the gap that most right fielders aren’t able to reach.
“Usually I play shallow,” he said. “My ground cover kind of helps my arm a lot better. I can get it to the infield real quickly.”
Revere spent time at all three outfield positions in 2011, including 89 in center field while Span was injured. He played just four games in right field a year ago, but he’s held down that spot for most of 2012.
While he may be a center fielder at heart, Revere says he’s comfortable playing right field.
“It helps the team,” Revere said. “Denard, he’s our center fielder, he’s our leadoff guy, and it’s going to make our team a lot better having me out there with him, we can cover so much ground. I know where he can cover, and he knows where I can cover, and usually stuff like that, we’re so quick, cover ground.”
Seemingly not too many balls end up in the gap in right-center when Span and Revere are patrolling the outfield. It gives Minnesota’s starting pitchers some peace of mind knowing those two can track down most of what’s hit to the outfield.
And the highlight-reel catches that Revere and Span continue to make gives something for Twins fans to watch, too, despite the team’s 37-52 record.
“That’s where a lot of the triples happen, right against that wall (in right-center),” said Twins left-hander Scott Diamond, who was the beneficiary of the catches by Span and Revere on Monday. “It seems like every time the ball’s hit out there, they do a great job of running it down.”