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New Nationals' outfielder Ben Revere on Denard Span, Rod Carew, turning singles into doubles

In a series of interviews over the last week, new Washington Nationals' outfielder Ben Revere has talked about himself as a player, how he turned into what he is today and which players from his past helped to shape him. Leadoff man, center fielder and more...

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

"I'm not sure, man," manager Dusty Baker said at the Winter Meetings in Nashville in early December, when asked if he saw anyone on the Washington Nationals' roster at that point who could lead off in 2016.

"Until I see them or until I work with them -- I mean, leadoff candidates? You don't know if Trea Turner is ready.

"I've asked questions. Mike Taylor, you don't know. You don't know if we might even acquire somebody." Which is what the Nationals ended up doing.

"He doesn’t hit many doubles and he doesn’t get many walks, but the guy gets on base. Last year he was at a .342 clip. His singles turn into doubles." -Mike Rizzo on new Nationals' outfielder Ben Revere

The Nationals reportedly checked in on some of the Colorado Rockies' outfielders. They reportedly made a $200M offer to free agent outfielder Jason Heyward before he signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Ultimately, the Nationals and General Manager Mike Rizzo traded for 27-year-old outfielder Ben Revere, sending Drew Storen and cash to the Toronto Blue Jays for Revere and a Player to Be Named Later.

"He doesn’t hit many doubles and he doesn’t get many walks," Mike Rizzo told reporters in a conference call after the trade. "But the guy gets on base. Last year he was at a .342 clip. His singles turn into doubles.

"We feel good about him. He’s hit at the top of the lineup each stage of his career."

"He’s the type of leadoff hitter that is very tough to pitch against," Rizzo continued.

"He fouls off a lot of pitches and has really good at-bats. We look forward to seeing him on our team this year. He’s played against us for years. He’s a guy that we’ve respected for a long time."

In 484 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, Revere, who has a .292/.324/.341 line as a leadoff man in his six-year major league career, put up a .302/.334/.370 line batting first, and a .314/.334/.370 line as the first batter of the game in 106 games in 2015.

Revere told reporters in the nation's capital, as quoted by Washington Post writer James Wagner, that he'd be happy to continue to lead off for the Nationals, though he's comfortable wherever they need him.

"If I play in center, cool. If I play left, awesome. But no matter what, as long as I'm out there trying to help the team win I'm cool with it." -Ben Revere on being comfortable in all three outfield positions

"Honestly, with my game as a contact hitter, pulling the ball or driving the ball the other way, just trying get on base and score. Top of the lineup or bottom of the lineup. Anyway I can help my team win. As long as I’m in the lineup, it doesn’t matter. Let’s see what Dusty [Baker] wants to do. No preference. Whatever makes the team better. If I have to bat ninth, just to make the team better; if we have like two leadoff guys up — kind [of] did that with the Blue Jays for a good minute and we were winning games — we can do that. But if they want me leadoff, I’ll go leadoff. I’ll see what they want to do. But with me, they can put me anywhere in the lineup and I’d be fine."

He has the same approach to where he plays defensively, having spent the majority of his career in center field, though Toronto used him predominantly in left after they acquired him from Philadelphia last summer.

"It doesn't matter," Revere said in an MLB Network Radio interview on Thursday morning.

"As long as I'm out there trying to help the team win I'm all good, because I can play all three positions. I can play center, left, right."

"If I play in center, cool. If I play left, awesome. But no matter what, as long as I'm out there trying to help the team win I'm cool with it."

Revere took over in center for Denard Span when the Minnesota Twins dealt the now-former Nationals' outfielder to Washington in 2011/12, but one year later he was dealt to the Phillies, where Revere played for two-plus seasons before last year's deal to the Blue Jays.

He said he learned a lot from Span, and has continued to talk to the leadoff man he's once again replacing.

"He definitely helped me grow up as a baseball player," Revere told reporters earlier this week, "and having that first postseason experience this year with the Blue Jays really helped out. I know, going into it, how it’s going to be.

"But I think Denard he really kind of prepared me … just go in there and do what I do best and let the rest take care of itself."

Another major influence on his approach at the plate? Hall of Famer Rod Carew.

According to what Revere told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Thursday afternoon, the former Twin and California Angel told Revere not to worry about hitting for power and instead concentrate on getting on base.

"Ever since I got up," Revere explained, "guys were like, 'Ben you can try to do that [hit for power], and hit .280, .270, or, you know, you can do what you do best, hit your line drives, occasionally make your triples, some doubles, but hit singles and steal second base and you'll hit over .300 for a long time and be in this game for a long time, so I do that and one of the guys who told me was Rod Carew, and he kind of told me about that, so you've got to listen to a Hall of Famer like him and ever since then I think I've really kind of turned my game around."