Ken­drick ac­quired to pump up of­fense

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Par­ent rpar­ent @21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Reluc­tan­tSE on Twit­ter

Not much of a ques­tion that the Phillies needed a re­li­able vet­eran hit­ter to man one of their cor­ner out­field spots. One long and re­peat­edly painful sea­son of looks at what they didn’t get of­fen­sively out of their left field­ers and right field­ers in 2016 was enough to tell you that.

But gen­eral man­ager Matt Klen­tak was in a tell-all mood Fri­day af­ter ac­quir­ing Howie Ken­drick from the Los An­ge­les Dodgers. Not only does Klen­tak think he brought in a vet­eran hit­ter to be his ev­ery-day left fielder, he seems to be expecting a lit­tle more than that.

“There may not be a more pro­fes­sional hit­ter than Howie Ken­drick,” Klen­tak raved af­ter ship­ping failed prospect of the re­cent past Darin Ruf and mar­ginal prospect Dar­nell Sweeney to L.A. for Ken­drick. “He’s the def­i­ni­tion of a pro­fes­sional hit­ter. He’s been steady his en­tire ca­reer. He’s one of the hard­est work­ing guys in the league and he can hit any­where in the lineup and be pro­duc­tive.

“Pete (Mack­anin) and I have spo­ken over the past sev­eral months. This is the type of player that we re­ally wanted to add to our lineup. I think Howie is go­ing to have a le­git­i­mate im­pact on our young group.”

Ken­drick, 33, hit .255 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs last sea­son, com­pil­ing a .691 OPS along the way. In stints with the An­gels and Dodgers, he has played the bulk of his ca­reer at sec­ond base, but Klen­tak is sure he’s go­ing to be a solid out­fielder.

“The plan right now is that Howie Ken­drick will be our ev­ery day left fielder. But for a young ros­ter, es­pe­cially with us likely to add many young play­ers to our 40-man ros­ter, hav­ing a player on the 25-man who has the abil­ity to play left field, first base, sec­ond base, third base, re­ally does pro­vide Pete with a lot of flex­i­bil­ity from a game to game ba­sis,” Klen­tak said. “That’s some­thing that, just in terms of gen­eral ros­ter man­age­ment, is go­ing to be very im­por­tant to us this year. And Howie Ken­drick can play all of those po­si­tions. The ver­sa­til­ity that the brings to our team is a huge ben­e­fit.”

Klen­tak ac­knowl­edged that Ken­drick had a down sea­son last year; he is a ca­reer .289 hit­ter. But the 11-year vet­eran lost his reg­u­lar role at sec­ond af­ter Chase Ut­ley ar­rived from the Phillies and ac­cord­ing to the Los An­ge­les Times, Ken­drick may have been un­happy in his util­ity role.

The Dodgers, ap­par­ently look­ing to cut salary, traded Car­los Ruiz to Seat­tle ear­lier in the week. The two trades could save them about $13 mil­lion. They will likely look to use Ruf, 30, in a util­ity role.

Mean­while, Klen­tak is look­ing for Ken­drick to re­turn to form, call­ing him, “a can­di­date to have a bounce-back year.

“A lot of the un­der­ly­ing, more ad­vanced statis­tics would sug­gest he got a bit un­lucky last year,” Klen­tak said. “He’s still very good at squar­ing up the base­ball and mak­ing solid con­tact. I think the fact that we will com­mit reg­u­lar play­ing time to him will al­low him to be more com­fort­able from game to game. And just the fact that he’s a good hit­ter gives us con­fi­dence that he will be very pro­duc­tive next year.”

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