Kendrick zeroing in on staying with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick allowed just one baserunner in three innings.
Kyle Kendrick allowed just one baserunner in three innings.
Posted: March 07, 2011

LAKELAND, Fla. - There's always more than one way to look at things. So while Kyle Kendrick pitched three impressive innings in his first Grapefruit League start and seems to have a firm grip on a spot in the bullpen, the old baseball disclaimer buzzes in the background: You never know.

Kendrick allowed just one baserunner, a single by leftfielder Andy Dirks. So far this spring, he's totaled five shutout innings. The Phillies' split squad ended up losing, 2-1, to the Tigers at Marchant Stadium.

"Nothing's guaranteed in this game. But as long as everything's fine, I don't think, I'm not going to just come out and say, 'Yeah, I have a spot.' But I don't think I've shown anything that I shouldn't be here," Kendrick said.

Fair enough. But there's also the theory that if he's the first line of defense in case of an injury to one of the Big Five starters, he'd be better off staying sharp by pitching every day at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

"There's different things you can say about that," Kendrick responded. "We need a long man in the 'pen. I've pitched out of the 'pen and I've done well. So I think that speaks for itself. We need a guy there. We need a guy in that position. Someone to fill [Chad Durbin's] role. I think Chad and I are pretty similar.

"I think they'd have nontendered me if they didn't want me [in the big leagues]. You can look at it that way, too."

Instead, he avoided arbitration by signing a 1-year, $2.45 million contract.

Manager Charlie Manuel quickly shot down speculation that Kendrick he could be ticketed for the minors.

"As I sit here today, I think Kendrick definitely can be long relief in the big leagues. Pitch in the middle of the game in the big leagues. So, therefore, I don't think it would hurt him at all, really," he said.

"The only thing is, if he would have that role, if he ever had to go back and start, it would take a while to lengthen him back out. Anymore when you talk long guy in the National League, usually that's about two innings because if you're behind in the game you're going to hit for him."

Manuel was so bullish talking about the 26-year-old righthander with a 35-24 record in the big leagues - "He's showed he can pitch in the big leagues. He just happens to be on a team now where we have five starters. But Kendrick can pitch" - that a cynic might suspect that the manager was trying to build his trade value.

Kendrick, who continues to work on his slider this spring, said he'd rather pitch in relief for the Phillies than start anywhere else. But if there's one thing he knows for sure it's that, in baseball, you never know.

Triple threat

The third pitch that nonroster righthander Matt Anderson threw in the ninth inning yesterday at Marchant Stadium hit 99 mph, according to the scoreboard radar gun.

Before the game, he insisted he had no doubt that, 3 years after shoulder problems seemed to have ended his once-promising career once and for all, that he will reach triple digits again.

"Oh, I know I will. A hundred percent. That's easy. Seriously, that's nothing. I've got a lot more than that," the free-spirited former No. 1 overall draft choice of the Tigers said.

"[My shoulder] is even stronger than it's ever been. It didn't come back for 2 or 3 years because of my lack of preparation. Up to that point, I felt it would come back because everything just came kind of natural, you know? I didn't really rehab like I should have and build the muscle like I should have. It took 2 or 3 years to get that back and then I went through the divorce and it made it like a 5-year process."

Anderson was the losing pitcher. He came into a tie game and gave up hits to three of the four hitters he faced, including a walkoff single by Scott Thorman. But the leadoff hitter, Don Kelly, reached on a hard-hit ball that possibly could have been handled by first baseman Robb Quinlan. And the second hit was a seeing-eye grounder up the middle by Andy Dirks.

The irrepressible Anderson remains positive. "I'm on the autobahn of baseball. I'm excited, man," he said.

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