Kendrick pitches 5 scoreless innings, beats Pirates

March 20, 2008 8:09:42 PM PDT
A prank trade to Japan didn't shake Kyle Kendrick's confidence as much as a pair of rough outings did. He seems back on track now, so the Philadelphia Phillies don't have to consider keeping him under close surveillance. "We had to watch him on the Skyway bridge there for a while," pitching coach Rich Dubee joked after Kendrick pitched five scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Kendrick came out of nowhere last year to bail out a depleted rotation and help the Phillies win the NL East title. He went 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts after getting called up from Double-A Reading in mid-June.

But Kendrick's first major league camp didn't start off well. First, he was the victim of a clever clubhouse prank that included teammate Brett Myers, manager Charlie Manuel and assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Kendrick was called into the manager's office during the first week of spring training and informed he was traded to a Japanese team. The well-orchestrated joke got national attention, and everyone wanted to interview the gullible Kendrick.

When the games started, Kendrick struggled. The 23-year-old right-hander was hit hard in his second and third outings. He gave up seven runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings against Atlanta, and six runs and seven hits in two innings against Toronto on March 9.

Getting smacked around left Kendrick doubting himself a bit. After all, he didn't have that much trouble getting hitters out as a rookie.

"It was a shock to me," Kendrick said.

Dubee saw Kendrick feeling down, so he pulled him aside and gave him a stern lecture.

"I was never concerned," Dubee said. "He won 10 games last year. He was concerned. He hadn't got hit like that. He was startled. ... He's more aware of who he is and what the process is of getting ready in spring training. He's going to have a long future. These are things he has to learn and understand not to panic."

Kendrick allowed two runs in four innings in a minor league game last Saturday and topped that against the Pirates. He allowed two hits, walked two and hit one batter.

"I'm getting closer," Kendrick said. "I'm not there. Overall it was a good outing."

Ryan Howard, Geoff Jenkins and Pedro Feliz each hit solo homers off Pirates starter Ian Snell.

After Kendrick departed, Clay Condrey, J.D. Durbin and Tom Gordon held the Pirates to two hits over four innings.

Snell, scheduled to pitch the Pirates' opener, gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings in his first start since getting an $8 million, three-year contract. He threw strictly fastballs against the Phillies.

"I did what I was told and I thought I did it pretty well," Snell said. "I kept the fastball down and put it pretty much where I wanted to. When I did get the ball up a couple of times, they hit it out. After a while, I'm sure they knew what was coming." Notes: Adam Eaton, competing for the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, originally was supposed to pitch against the Pirates. He'll start at Minnesota on Friday. Brett Myers, the opening day starter, will pitch in a minor league game Friday. ... Howard has five homers this spring.