When the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signed Howie Kendrick to a two-year contract during the offseason, it was with the intention that he would be utilized at multiple positions. While the expectation was for Kendrick to primarily play second base, that’s hardly been the case.
Kendricks’ calf injury, coupled with Chase Utley getting off to a hot start, has led to Utley entrenching himself as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. Injuries put Kendrick in left field, where he’s seemingly found a new home.
Entering play on Saturday, Kendrick has played 177 errorless innings over 32 games in left field. “Howie is really making that transition into left field, I want to say seamless,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this week.
“He’s a baseball player and I trust him. I don’t know what the metrics say about him, but I know he looks good in the eye test.” Kendrick made a diving catch Monday night on in the seventh inning. He snag on the sinking line drive helped Clayton Kershaw limit the Washington Nationals to just one run.
In discussing the sequence after the victory, Kershaw called Kendrick’s catch the play of the game. Then on Tuesday night, Kendrick fielded a base hit and threw out Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos at home plate to keep the Dodgers’ deficit at 2-0.
They erased that in the ensuing half inning to earn a fifth consecutive win. While Roberts has at times removed Kendrick from left field, it’s not as a sign of there being any issues. “I’ve only defensed for him maybe once or twice,” Roberts said.
“I’ve double-switched but it was the for the reason of getting the next hitter up in the coming inning. He’s shown he’s earned the right to be out there, and continues to improve and get good jumps on the baseball, make plays with his glove and [Tuesday] he made a great play with his arm.”
With Yasiel Puig back and getting the majority of the playing time in right field, Kendrick may now lose some playing time to Trayce Thompson in left field. However, Roberts said he’ll look to mix Kendrick in at second and third base.