Before going out on the current ten-game, three-city road trip that concludes with two more in Wrigley Field today and tomorrow, Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker talked to reporters about the difficult trip they were embarking upon.
"There are three or four times on the schedule where you say, 'Hey this is going to be a heck of a road trip,' or whatever and this is going to be a test to see -- a barometer to see how good we are right now," Baker said.
"We're not full-forces yet, we haven't been and we've done pretty well, because Ben Revere, one of our igniters, is getting ready. So, it's going to be a test road [trip].
"We've got good pitching, most of the time big ballparks, different elements that you have to deal with. In the Midwest you've always got the elements to deal with, so it's going to be exciting."
Revere, 27, rejoined the Nationals in Chicago, but wasn't activated in time for the series opener with the Cubs, which Washington lost.
Before the second game of four in Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, the leadoff hitter was reinstated from the DL and penciled in as the Nats' leadoff hitter for the first time since he injured his right oblique on Opening Day.
"Really happy," Revere told reporters before returning to the lineup. "Kind of a bummer to miss a month of the season, but it's also good that your team is doing so well without you. The chemistry in that locker room is great."
"Everybody was texting me down in Syracuse to see how I was feeling and each and every day, 'What's the update?' and status and everything. But it's a blessing to be back and I just can't wait to get back out there with the guys."
Waiting for the oblique to heal, Revere said, was not easy.
"It was tough for me, it was definitely tough, but it's the type of injury you've got to let heal," he explained.
"Luckily it healed quicker than expected, so went down to Syracuse, played some games, took some hacks, and didn't feel nothing, so I told them, 'Yo, I'm ready to go.'"
Baker said he was happy to have his center fielder and leadoff man back, now that he was healthy enough to return.
"If he wasn't 100% we wouldn't have activated him, if we don't think he was 100%," Baker explained.
"So, hey man, just go be Ben Revere, that's why we got you. I may have to spot him from time to time if I see he looks a little sore in the legs or whatever it is, because it's a little different when you get here. You're exerting the maximum energy for the maximum amount of time, so we'll see."
Revere said he was willing to do whatever he could to help the Nationals now that he's back.
"I told them I’m going all-out," Revere told reporters, including MASN's Mark Zuckerman.
"I don’t care. I know there’s no padding on that wall. But anything hit to the fence, I’m going right through it, right through the ivy."
Revere didn't have to run into any walls on Friday. He didn't reach base either, in his second game of the season, but as Baker acknowledged after the 8-6 loss, it might take some time for the outfielder to get back up to game speed.
"[It's] still kind of like Spring Training to him," Baker said. "You miss a month and you start the season behind a month and the pitches are a lot sharper at this point than when he saw them last time in Spring Training. Ben did hit a ball hard up the middle and then [Anthony] Rizzo was placed perfectly on the line and made a fine play.
"That's a positive sign when he's hitting the ball. Other than the first at bat when he chased it in the dirt, he swung the bat well."
Revere is back atop the lineup this afternoon for the third game of four with the Cubs in Wrigley: