The Los Angeles Dodgers opened the season without several expected regulars, including starting second baseman Howie Kendrick, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 25 with a left calf strain.
After remaining at Camelback Ranch and participating in simulated games, Kendrick began a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday night. The veteran infielder served as the designated hitter as the Quakes hosted the Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres affiliate) on a drizzly Opening Night at LoanMart Field.
Kendrick went 0-for-3, but did reach base once when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning. More important than his results at the plate, Kendrick tested his leg without issue. He was caught stealing after reaching base, but was pleased with being back out on the field.
“That’s the only way to really do it, if something is bothering you got to try it out. What better way to do it than to come here and play some games,” Kendrick said. “Luckily, I got over there on first base by getting hit by a pitch. But overall my leg feels good, and I’m just trying to build off today.”
Next for Kendrick is playing the field, which he’ll do at multiple positions. “[Friday] I’m supposed to play third base for I think five or six innings, and then play second (base) the next couple of days,” Kendrick said. “It’ll be good to get back out on the field and get in the flow of the game.”
Kendrick technically is eligible to be reinstated from the DL on Saturday, though Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has anticipated a return on Tuesday for the club’s home opener. Kendrick expects that to be the case.
“I don’t see why I wouldn’t be (ready by Tuesday),” he said. “I’m coming running and doing everything I need to do, hopefully I continue to progress the next couple days and see how my leg feels. But I have a feeling it’s going to feel good.”
The Quakes are in the midst of a seven-game homestand to start the season, making the rehab assignment all the easier for Kendrick to complete. Chase Utley has filled in admirably in Kendrick’s absence, as he is batting .316 (6-for-19) with one double and a triple in four games.
Yasmani Grandal, who began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City, is also on track to be reinstated Tuesday.