In his first two starts with the Washington Nationals on Sunday, Dusty Baker had new Nats’ infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick batting sixth and second, so, of course, the veteran skipper was asked where he thinks Kendrick fits best in the lineup.
While the Nationals wait for Michael A. Taylor (who starts a rehab stint today) and Jayson Werth to return, where will Baker pencil Kendrick in?
Baker said the spots he hit in during the doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies had more to do with who was and wasn’t in the lineup up each game, but he said Kendrick could bat second.
“I think Howie is a perfect second hitter,” Baker said.
“It’s just that I came up with a different lineup because I didn’t want the bottom of the lineup to be heavy with guys that weren’t as productive. That’s why I had Howie down there in the first game, and in the second game — because I didn’t have [Daniel] Murphy in the first game — so I had to have some production down there.
“I didn’t have [Bryce Harper] in the second game, and so I think the second slot is perfect [for Kendrick], but I also wanted to turn the lineup over with the seven and eight [hitters], and they came through [Wilmer] Difo and [Brian] Goodwin, and plus they had played in the first game, Goody had done a lot of running in center field, so I kind of wanted to get them a break on their legs going into the second game.”
Goodwin went 3 for 8 with a home run and three runs scored in the doubleheader on Sunday, connecting for his 11th homer of the season in 225 plate appearances. Baker talked after the game about the surprising pop the 26-year-old outfielder has shown this season.
“I don’t know if he realized he had it, you know,” Baker said. “But he’s been working on his swing, really working on hitting against left-handers, and he’s a strong young man, and he learns quickly, and he’s full of questions, when you tell him something he has the ability to apply it in a relatively short period of time, and so he’s been a real savior for us in center field, and he’ll be back to lead off tomorrow.”
Goodwin’s leading off tonight in Miami. Kendrick is getting a night off.