The Los Angeles Dodgers largely returned the same roster from last season’s team that won a third consecutive National League West title for the first time in franchise history. That’s particularly true for position players, even after an offseason where it appeared it wouldn’t be the case.
After Howie Kendrick rejected the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, it appeared his tenure with the Dodgers would end after just one season. Chase Utley was re-signed, suggesting he would platoon at second base with Kiké Hernandez, with Micah Johnson perhaps factoring into the picture at some point.
However, Kendrick’s quiet free agency eventually led to him re-signing with the Dodgers on a two-year contract. Kendrick missed the first week of games as he began the year on the 15-day disabled list due to a left calf strain.
Since returning, he’s spent plenty of time in left field. While it was expected Kendrick would play multiple positions, a prolonged slump was not envisioned from the steady veteran.
Entering Tuesday’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, the 32 year old was just 8-for-56 (.143 batting average) in 19 games (14 starts). Kendrick broke out of the slump against Tampa Bay, going 4-for-5 with one double and two RBIs.
Kendrick discussed the positive approach he maintained throughout his slump, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Seems like the drought this time was a lot longer, but the biggest thing is stay confident and stay in the game,” said Kendrick, 1-for-16 on the team’s previous homestand. “We’ve all struggled in the past, but mentally if you can ride it out and stay consistent, over time it will smooth itself out. I’d rather go through it early in the season than late in the season.
The double and RBIs were Kendrick’s first of the season. He enters play on Wednesday batting .197/.222/.213 on the season, which is still far off his career .291/.331/.420 line. Last season Kendrick batted .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs.