BRADENTON, Fla. Hours before the Phillies played the Pirates on Friday, a lone scout in a near empty ballpark saw a reporter from Philadelphia.
The basic pleasantries were exchanged.
Then the scout said, How about Kyle Kendrick? Hes looked really good.
A few hours later, Kendrick continued his outstanding spring with 3 13 shutout innings in the Phillies 3-2 loss to the Pirates at McKechnie Field.
Kendrick did not allow a hit or a walk and struck out five.
That cutter has really helped him, the scout said.
A few years ago, the Phillies werent sure which way Kendrick was headed. He had won 21 games his first two seasons in the majors, but desperately needed to augment his pitch repertoire, which began and ended with a sinking fastball that left-handed hitters had learned to feast upon. In 2009, he was sent to Triple A to learn a changeup, which he did, and he has since added a cutter, which continues to get better.
Left-handed hitters batted .312 against Kendrick in 2010. Last year, with an improved cutter, lefties hit just .234 against him. The cutter prevents left-handed hitters from diving into his sinker. If they guess sinker and start diving, they risk getting a cutter off the fingernails.
So far this spring, Kendrick has pitched 8 13 scoreless innings. He has not walked a batter and he has struck out nine. He has given up just four hits.
Hes pitched very aggressively, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
The Phillies are in a nice position with Kendrick. Right now, he lines up to work in the bullpen. If he continues to be effective, he could work himself into a significant role in the pen. But Kendrick is stretched out and could be used as starter, as well. Kendrick has always said that he will happily fill any role, but deep down inside hes always wanted another chance to be a full-time starter. That could come if Joe Blanton is traded later in the spring or during the season.
I love having pitching depth, Amaro said.
Kendrick is giving the Phillies some.
Cliff Lee started Fridays game and allowed three runs in 4 23 innings. He gave up a pair of homers.
Lee said he feels strong, that the home runs came on poorly located pitches. He will spend the rest of the spring working on location.
Im right where I need to be, he said. I could have gone 100 pitches today.
Outfielders Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre played the whole game in center and right field, respectively. Podsednik went 1 for 3 and Pierre was hitless. They appear to be battling for the final outfielders job. We have 15 games left down here, manager Charlie Manuel said. Well see how it plays out. The Phillies host the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Vance Worley opposes Brandon Morrow.