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How Howie Kendrick is fitting in with the Washington Nationals

Mike Rizzo’s trade for Howie Kendrick didn’t get the attention of the Nationals’ bullpen deals, but it was a shrewd move that’s paying off...

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

With two on and two out and the Nationals already up 4-1 in the fifth inning last night, Washington’s skipper Dusty Baker gave veteran hitter Howie Kendrick the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Miami Marlins’ lefty Adam Conley. Kendrick lined the 3-0 offering to left field for a line drive RBI double that put the Nats up 5-1 in what ended up a 10-1 win over the Fish.

Kendrick ended the night 3 for 4 with three runs batted in, leaving him 13 for 34 with three doubles and a home run in 10 games since he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline.

The 34-year-old infielder/outfielder’s .382/.400/.559 line with the Nationals gives him a .349/.398/.474 line on the year.

As Dusty Baker noted after Kendrick’s three-hit game last night, he was hitting before he got to D.C., but he’s definitely impressed in his short time with the Nationals.

“He could hit before he got here,” Baker said.

“We have to spot him sometimes, but the guy can hit. I didn’t bat him second today because I needed somebody to hit behind [Matt] Wieters tonight, and he had some big hits tonight. None more than that double down the line -- because a lot of times you let a guy hit 3-0 they try to do too much, but he knows how to hit. He’s a professional hitter. He’s strong. He takes care of himself, and he’s fit right in with the team.”

Kendrick, who left the last place Phillies to join the current NL East-leading Nats, talked recently about being excited to jump onto a team that’s heading places.

“I think the biggest thing is just to fit in,” Kendrick said last week.

“The team is already winning and I came from over in the Phillies playing against these guys to being part of this team, and they already have something special here, and I think my goal is just to come in and fit in and to continue to do my job as a player. All I want to do is contribute and do my part.”

“He’s been on good teams before,” Baker added last night, “and I’ve heard that in the past.

“We also knew that we were trying to get guys that were good teammates, and he has a reputation of being an outstanding teammate, so I’ve had my eye on him, and he’s probably had his eyes on me — well his eyes on me probably longer, but he has a good attitude and I see him helping the younger players, as well as the older players, and he has the respect of the players already and the guys on this team because he came here with a good reputation.”

Baker took Kendrick, who missed some time with a back issue this week, out in the eighth, to rest him up since he plans on playing him again tonight in the finale with the Marlins so that he can give Anthony Rendon a night off... and at least in part, because the Nationals were up by nine runs at that point.

“He was taken out because I’m trying to nurse him with the bad back, and the score had something to do with it, but basically I was trying to keep him sharp and prepared for tomorrow. And Anthony needs a blow, I can tell he’s been sick for the last week or so, so I was trying to nurse [Kendrick] through this game because I told Anthony he was off tomorrow, and you know how he responds after a day off.”