In two weeks we will hear plenty of mitts-a-poppin’ when the reports come back from the Phillies’ camp in Clearwater, Fla. And taking a prominent role with the Phils’ starting rotation when spring training begins will be right-hander Kyle Kendrick.
Kendrick signed a $7.6 million deal this month to avoid arbitration with the Phillies and will be one of the team’s leaders and mentors for the young pitchers looking to make a contribution.
“I’m ready for it,” Kendrick said during an appearance on Philly Sports Talk on Thursday. “[Right-handed pitcher Jonathan] Pettibone is a good guy [and] I’ve been trying to help him out a little bit. I’m just trying to help guys out as much as I can — just trying to pass along the things I learned from Jamie (Moyer) and Roy (Halladay) and all the guys I’ve played with. It’s fun. If I can help guys out, it’s great.”
Mostly, the advice will be about what it takes to be a big leaguer. After all, says Kendrick, the Phillies’ young pitchers are a little more developed than the veteran was when he was called up from Double-A Reading in 2007.
“They’re better than me,” Kendrick said. “I had one pitch.”
Kendrick picked up a few more since then and has been working on curveball with new pitching coach Bob McClure. A few seasons ago, Kendrick worked on a changeup with former pitching coach Rich Dubee, which was an excellent complement to his “one pitch,” the sinker.
Still, it’s the one pitcher who will be in camp in a different role that will most intrigue Kendrick. In fact, Kendrick can’t wait to work with new spring-training instructor, Roy Halladay.
“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Kendrick said. “I’ve been texting and talking to him and I’m excited he’s going to be there.”
When Halladay joined the Phillies for the 2010 season, Kendrick was his shadow, looking for any morsel of information from the ace to make him a better pitcher. But in December when Halladay announced he was retiring, Kendrick knew it was the right move.
“Physically, I don’t think he could do much more. Mentally, he still wants to pitch,” Kendrick said. “Physically, he was hurting and I know he wants to be to walk in 10 years. He made the right decision. He just texted me a little while ago, he’s coaching his kid in basketball so he’s staying busy.”
Like Halladay, Kendrick dealt with injuries in 2013 as well. Though he had a career-high 182 innings in 30 starts, Kendrick was shut down with shoulder pain in September.
But with spring training ready to open, Kendrick is OK.
“When I got the MRI in the middle of September we made a good decision — myself and the organization — to shut it down for the last two weeks," he said. "I feel great now and I’ve been doing all my rehab and my shoulder stuff. I have a bullpen tomorrow and I’ve been throwing down in Florida and I feel good.”