WASHINGTON -- Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo stopped by Howie Kendrick’s place with a special gift while he was in isolation.
They came with his World Series ring, a special hand delivery necessitated by Kendrick’s 14-day quarantine stay as part of the District’s contact tracing protocol.
He still thinks about last year, the big moments, the grand slam in Los Angeles and the World Series home run off the foul pole. Talking about it, smiling about, reminiscing has not become old for Kendrick.
“Being a world champion, that’s a dream come true,” Kendrick said. “I relive those moments all the time. I run into people, I talk to a lot of friends, it’s cool to hear the stories. I still get goosebumps and chills to this day."
Being stuck in his house for two weeks? That’s less fun.
“Obviously it was a little boring,” Kendrick said. “I have a little golf putting mat. I had a net to hit into, so I was hitting while I was at home still. With Netflix nowadays, you can pretty much kill a lot of time. I was doing a lot of pushups.”
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It’s unclear if Kendrick dropped for 20 if he missed a putt or in between episodes of Peaky Blinders. But, his process to stay ready fell under the same piecemeal approach others have put together.
Kendrick participated in just two intrasquad games to this point since he had to wait until Thursday to return. He will be in the lineup Saturday for the Nationals’ first exhibition game. He also expects to be ready for the July 23 opener, even if he is not really ready. Got that?
“I’ll be ready -- whether I am or not,” Kendrick said. “I’ll be ready.”
To get there, he wants to continue working on his timing. It was better Friday in Day Two than Day One -- when Kendrick hit a line-drive single to center field in his first at-bat. And, Kendrick worked as the designated hitter both days.
He’s done it before, though not often. Kendrick made just 24 starts at designated hitter for Anaheim during his nine years in the American League.
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Kendrick’s presence there this season shows the depth the Nationals can deploy. Friday’s lineup looked like this:
Adam Eaton (L)
Juan Soto (L)
Eric Thames (L)
Asdrúbal Cabrera (S)
And, when Victor Robles returns, he can again hit ninth. Everyone in that lineup hit at least 15 home runs last season.
-- Left-handed reliever Roenis Elías was placed on the 10-day injured list July 14 for an undisclosed reason. Friday, he was in the outfield throwing long toss. Davey Martinez said Elías has been cleared to start working out and may throw a live session Sunday against hitters. His injury, and the Nationals releasing Fernando Abad on Friday because he had an opt-out which kicked in Saturday, gives left-hander Sam Freeman a good chance to make the initial 30-man active roster.
-- Soto and Kendrick were back to work Friday following their first workouts with the team Thursday. Neither played the field. Martinez said both felt good, asked to play the field and will be in the lineup to start Saturday’s exhibition game.
“We only got three games against different teams, so we’ve got to get them out there,” Martinez said.
-- Sean Doolittle has lowered his leg kick. Instead of his right knee pulled high toward his chest, it’s stopping closer to his waist.
“Something he worked on during the break,” Martinez said. “It’s a little quicker, a little different. It seems like his arm action is catching up a little better. Not fighting himself as much. So far, so good.”
The point? To speed up his delivery time to the plate and alter his release point.
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