The Los Angeles Dodgers introduced one of their newest additions Friday at Chavez Ravine as Howie Kendrick represented one half of their revamped middle infield. Whereas Andrew Friedman was joined by Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten for his introduction to Los Angeles, Kendrick had the spotlight to himself and seemed at ease with the transition from Anaheim.
As was the case with Matt Kemp, this winter brought about a new chapter for Kendrick as the Dodgers are only the second team he’ll play for in his nine-year career. The change should be rather seamless for Kendrick as he remains in Southern California and Spring Training will still be in Arizona — a key factor for Kendrick.
“That definitely makes it a lot easier. I live in Arizona and Spring Training in Arizona is huge,” said Kendrick who has two young sons, including one that he said just started school. “I grew up in Florida and nothing against Florida, but I don’t really want to go back to Florida. I love the West Coast, I’ve kind of grown accustomed to being out on this side of town.”
In joining the Dodgers, Kendrick not only replaces Dee Gordon, who was coming off an All-Star season but he’ll also be joined up the middle by Rollins — another new face to the Dodgers organization. Though Kendrick has never played with Rollins, he’s admired him from afar and believes Spring Training will be key for them to develop chemistry.
“I’ve been a fan of his for a while,” Kendrick said. “Just on watching him on ESPN over the years. I think Spring Training is going to be huge as far as getting in and getting comfortable with how he plays the game.”
Defense is an area the Dodgers have placed an emphasis on this winter, seemingly shoring up that aspect despite swapping in Kendrick and Rollins, both of whom are older than Gordon and Hanley Ramirez. Friedman has routinely complimented Kendrick and Rollins for their gloves, which is likely appreciated by the second baseman given the work he’s put in.
“I think that’s (defense) the part of my game I worked the hardest at,” Kendrick said while acknowledging it was a question mark he faced coming up. “I think I like to try to prove people wrong in that aspect.”
While Kendrick fits the mold of what the Dodgers were looking for, he’s only one piece to the puzzle puzzle that Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are attempting to put together. The 31-year-old second baseman spoke highly of the Dodgers’ steps towards assembling a winning team and he’ll soon experience the pressure that comes with attempting to win a World Series for the first time since 1988.
As for being in the final year of his contract, Kendrick stated it isn’t something he’s thought about and Friedman later said he believes it could be addressed in the future.
PART 2: Howie Kendrick Talks About The National League Vs. The American League