Kendrick back with change-up, confidence Kendrick back, packing change-up in his arsenal

Posted: July 29, 2009

PHOENIX — It happened in May. Kyle Kendrick finally enjoyed throwing his change-up.

After winning 21 major-league games over two seasons and helping the Phils reach the playoffs in 2007, Kendrick's overreliance on his sinker began to undermine his effectiveness. Toward the end of spring training this year, he was demoted to triple-A Lehigh Valley and told to work on a change-up if he ever hoped to return.

"I was upset then, with myself and the situation," Kendrick, 24, said.

But he soon realized that the environment was ideal for developing a secondary pitch. "There was no pressure; no one cared if you won or lost," he said.

For Kendrick, who was called up from Lehigh Valley over the weekend, learning the change-up was a three-tiered process: He made an adjustment with his grip, threw the pitch repeatedly, and, finally, gained confidence. Pitcher Justin Lehr, who has since been traded to Cincinnati, showed Kendrick a new grip, one that Lehr had learned from Tim Hudson while the two were in Oakland. Lehr has since passed the grip on to Reds prospect Homer Bailey.

"That's the way it happens a lot," Kendrick said. "You talk to people, and knowledge gets passed around the game."

The next thing was to allow the pitch to develop, which Kendrick did by throwing it 25 to 30 times per game. Then, during one game in mid-May, hitters started swinging and missing. Kendrick soon tried the change-up in 3-2 counts and found success. "That's how confidence builds," he said.

"It's getting better," Phils farm director Chuck LaMar said of the change-up. LaMar said last month that Kendrick had made little progress. On June 12, Kendrick was an emergency call-up but was sent back down after allowing three runs in two innings in a 13-inning loss to the Red Sox. "It's not quite where he wants it to be yet, but he has worked his tail off," LaMar said.

The future remains uncertain for Kendrick, but progress this summer has left him happier than he was in the spring. "I actually like throwing it now," he said.

Reminded how much that outlook had evolved since March, Kendrick smiled and said, "Yeah, I know."

Register fills in

Steven Register, a 26-year-old righthander, joins Kendrick and Tyler Walker in the bullpen; they replace the injured Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, and J.C. Romero. Register was waived by the Colorado Rockies this spring. The Phillies had scouted him, and ultimately signed Register because "we wanted someone who could bring his stuff from triple A to the major-league level and wouldn't scare," LaMar said. "He's a competitor."

Register, who throws a high-80s-to-low-90s fastball, a slider, and a splitter, said that Lehigh Valley pitching coach Rod Nichols had helped him with a mechanical adjustment that gave him more downward motion in all his pitches.

"If I'm up here two, three days, whatever," he said. "Ride it and see what happens."

Meanwhile, Durbin (back) played long toss Monday and yesterday in Clearwater, Fla.

Moyer makes adjustment

Jamie Moyer seemed headed for a rough game in the first three innings Monday night, but an adjustment helped to convert early issues into a dominant outing.

Warming up before the fourth inning, Moyer changed the angle of his front leg during the windup. "My mechanics were horrible the first few innings," he said. "[Before the fourth], I picked up my leg a little differently and I said, 'That's it.' "

He allowed no runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or amartino@phillynews.com.

Late Game

Last night's game between the Phillies and Diamondbacks ended too late for this edition.

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