It’s been almost two weeks without second baseman Howie Kendrick for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they have been fine at the spot with Kiké Hernandez coming into his own over that time.
Even with Hernandez’s showing, the Dodgers made a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for second baseman Chase Utley on Wednesday. The move cost them two minor-leaguers, including Darnell Sweeney, who was called up to the Majors after the deal. A deal for a second baseman didn’t seem to fit the Dodgers needs, especially after two games in which the bullpen allowed runs that lost a game and put one out of reach.
One might have been inclined to think that Kendrick suffered a setback; however, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News, Kendrick is still on track to return sooner rather than later:
Farhan Zaidi said he is hopeful Howie Kendrick will go out on a rehab assignment at the beginning of September.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) August 20, 2015
Kendrick was injured on August 9 running out a grounder against the Pittsburgh Pirates and went on the disabled list the next day. He was hitting .389 with six RBIs in eight games in August before going down.
So why did the Dodgers deal for Utley, a second baseman who had demands of playing time in any trade?
According to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA, general manager Farhan Zaidi believed the injury was magnified during the stretch run:
Farhan Zaidi said Howie Kendrick's return timeline is still the same (early September), but said "2 weeks is a long time in a pennant race."
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) August 20, 2015
The talk around the deal is that Utley will be the team’s primary second baseman for the time being, allowing Hernandez to fill in more in center field because of Joc Pederson’s struggles at the plate. Also, if Hernandez was to sit a day at second base before this deal, Alberto Callaspo would have been the backup. Callaspo was designated for assignment after the deal, making Utley a significant upgrade.
Regardless of any deals, the Dodgers are hoping Kendrick returns as soon as possible.