Davey Martinez talked over the weekend, after a 3 for 5 game by Howie Kendrick in which he connected for his eighth home run of the season and drove in three runs in a 9-6 win, about fighting the urge to throw the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran out there every day if he wants to have Kendrick healthy and able to contribute all season.
“You want to put him out there every day, but I’ve got to make sure he’s rested and that he stays healthy throughout the whole year,” Martinez explained.
“I have conversations with Howie,” the second-year skipper explained when asked how he makes decisions on when Kendrick can go and when he needs to rest.
“And we talk a lot and he lets me know when his legs are heavy, because he’s had a lot of hamstring issues and I know that, so like I said, if I can plop him in in a game where he can pinch hit in a big moment, that means just as much to us as it does if he’s getting four at bats. I know getting him four at bats he can do what he did today, but the days he doesn’t feel right, to keep him fresh, we are able to put him in as a pinch hitter, it’s awesome.”
Kendrick singled in a pinch hit appearance in the series finale with the Miami Marlins on Monday afternoon, with the hit leaving him 38 for 123 (.309/.350/.553) with six doubles, eight home runs, nine walks, and 22 Ks in 44 games, 25 starts, and 137 plate appearances on the season.
As a pinch hitter this year, he’s 5 for 14 (.357/.375/.643) with a double and a home run, a walk and four Ks.
Kendrick started at first in last night’s series opener against the Braves in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, and he went 3 for 5 again, with a double and another homer, singling the first time up against lefty Max Fried in the top of the second, then doubling and scoring the third time up in the sixth inning, before homering to right-center field off reliever Anthony Swarzak in the seventh for what ended up being the winning run in the 5-4 win.
How does he keep doing what he’s doing and how does he stay locked in?
“He’s a professional hitter,” Martinez said. “Perfect example, he’s a guy that gets a pitch that he can hit and he tries to stay in the middle of the field, he really does. He hit the home run today to right-center field, but he doesn’t try to do a whole lot, he just wants to get a ball up in the zone and stay in the middle of the field.”
“It comes down to patience,” Kendrick told MASN’s Alex Chappell on the field after his 11th multi-hit game of the season, and, “having the ability to hit strikes, and I think that’s the big key for all of us on the team.
“A lot of us having been doing a really good job lately of working counts. We had some bases-loaded walks tonight, and I think that’s the key for all us is to have patience at the plate and just try to get our pitch and just not miss it.”
Kendrick’s three-hit game last night in Atlanta left him with a .320/.359/.586 line on the season.