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04/14/12 6:36 PM ET

Revere carries Jackie's legacy with his speed

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Twins outfielder Ben Revere was growing up, his grandfather would tell him stories about Jackie Robinson and what he had to go through while breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It wasn't easy for Robinson, as racism was still widely prevalent in America, but he responded by keeping quiet and letting his play do all the talking, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and finishing fifth in the Most Valuable Award voting in his first season.

Robinson went on to an illustrious 10-year career with the Dodgers in which he won the 1949 MVP Award and the 1955 World Series.

Among other traits, Robinson was noted for his speed, stealing home 19 times, and Revere said his grandfather paid him the ultimate compliment by saying his speed on the basepaths reminds him of Robinson.

"He always told me I had the same speed as Jackie and the same heart," Revere said. "So he told me if I tried to play the game like he did when he was playing, that I'd be in the game for a long time. So that's what I'm trying to do right now. I just try to have the same enthusiasm as he did and that work ethic."

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After an impressive rookie campaign in which he hit .267 with a team-leading 34 stolen bases, Revere made the club out of Spring Training this year for the first time in his career.

Revere was excited about the chance to honor Robinson as part of Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday at Target Field, but instead will have to wait another year, as he was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Rangers.

"He's the reason I'm here right now," Revere said before he was optioned. "Guys like me, Denard Span and other African-Americans are playing because of him. It's an honor, and an honor for people of all colors. He changed the face of Major League Baseball."

Robinson helped pave the way for African-Americans in baseball, and Revere said he can't even imagine the type of things he had to endure while breaking the color barrier.

Revere said he's happy he doesn't have to deal with anything like that these days, and that Robinson will always be one of his heroes because of everything he went through.

"It was so tough for him," Revere said. "My grandpa had to go through similar things back then, too. So it's easy to see the game has changed and everything. So I'm so grateful that he had the chance to do that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.