Guaranteed a spot, Kyle Kendrick can use spring to tinker

Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — One of the upshots of Kyle Kendrick being guaranteed a rotation spot this winter is the freedom of a spring without worries. The results of his Grapefruit League appearances are meaningless.

He will be the fourth starter come April.

Kendrick's spring debut Tuesday against the Yankees was anticlimactic. He allowed one run on three hits with a strikeout. His goal early in spring is to develop a feel for his two most important pitches: the sinker and change-up.

The sinker is what has made his career. The change-up, thrown a career-high 22.9 percent of the time last season, is what guaranteed his rotation spot.

A third pitch would help, too. Before the change-up, Kendrick used a cutter as his secondary pitch. He also throws a slider, but only rarely. That is a pitch he will play with later in spring.

Kendrick envisions his cutter and slider as interchangeable on a given day.

"My slider has been feeling pretty good in the bullpen," he said. "I threw one today to the first batter. I got a check swing. It was pretty close. It was a good pitch. I think it will keep getting better, for sure."

On Tuesday, Kendrick was just happy for the chance to throw in a game situation.

"I felt like I was really going to be upset if we got rained out," Kendrick said. "I felt like that Little League kid that just wanted to get out there. I used to cry when games used to get rained out. That's how I felt today."

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