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For Twins’ Revere, sports is a family affair

By Jim Souhan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Minnesota Twins outfielder Ben Revere decided to strengthen his throwing arm this winter, he sought out the people, places and games that gave birth to his baseball career.

His high school. The college where his father coaches. His brother. And the sport he left behind.

Revere is the product of what he calls “a very athletic family.” His older brother played independent league baseball. His mother ran track. His father coaches running backs at Eastern Kentucky University.

So when Revere went home last fall and worked at strengthening his soft-serve throwing arm, he took advice from those who most often offer it.

“This offseason, I threw a football, long-toss,” Revere said. “My brother was a quarterback and center fielder in college and high school. He said throwing a football strengthens your throwing arm like nothing else. So me and my buddy, we both have the same arm strength, would go out and crow-hop and just let it fly.

“I came here and everybody saw a lot more ‘velo’ on my throws from the outfield. They were like, ‘What have you been doing?’ Now I’ll even go out after practice and throw the football.”

Revere constantly receives tips from his family members, whether he wants them or not.

On July 15 at Target Field, Revere smacked a ball to right. When he churned around first and decided to try for a triple, he simultaneously sped up and looked over his shoulder, to check where the ball was.

“I turned around and second base with right there,” Revere said. “I tried to toe-tap it.”

Revere didn’t so much fall as audition for a stunt-man job in the next “Mission Impossible.” He executed a somersault, regained his feet and slid so late into third base that he wound up with his knees on the base while teammates laughed in the dugout.

He was also safe.

Which didn’t matter to his family.

“My brother, my dad and my grandfather were at that game,” Revere said. “When I got back to my house they kept me up until 1, 2 in the morning telling me how I should run the bases. I had to kick them out after a while.

“I had to say, ‘Guys, this is ridiculous.’ They were making me look at the video.

“Now they watch me on TV and call me 24-7, giving me tips. I had to tell them, ‘Look, just stop.’ But it’s all about family. They care about you. I’m the first person in my family to play at this level. So they worry about me. I had to tell them, ‘Seriously, y’all got to calm down.’ ”

Revere offers speed, durability, remarkable range and the potential to reach base. He hit .326 with a .385 on-base percentage in 380 minor league games. He has hit .262 with a .305 on-base percentage in 130 big-league games.

He stole 34 bases last season, and made catches in center field that no Twin has made since Torii Hunter was young and willing to challenge fences. Revere also was one of three Twins to play more than 100 games last year, along with Michael Cuddyer and Danny Valencia.

Thursday, in the Twins’ 6-5 B-game victory over Boston, Revere led off and started in left, and went 1-for-2. He wasn’t required to make a strong throw from the outfield.

Whether this spring or this summer, Revere has much to prove to ensure himself a spot in the starting lineup. He doesn’t hit for power, meaning he’s an awkward fit at a corner outfield spot, and the Twins are looking for a corner outfielder to play alongside Denard Span and Josh Willingham.

What should not be doubted are Revere’s work ethic or desire, both of which were instilled by a family of athletes and constructive critics.

“You have to be fearless,” Revere said, when asked about challenging fences. “Your coaches love that, your pitchers, your teammates love that, when they know you’re going to go all-out on every single play.”

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