Howie Kendrick missed the first two weeks of Spring Training 2.0, quarantined in his house as he waited to get cleared to begin working out at Nationals Park, after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
How did he spend his time in quarantine?
“I was meditating man, I was trying to be like Bruce Lee, be like water, you know,” Kendrick told reporters when he spoke on a Zoom call after his second sim game in two days.
“I was at the house just chilling,” he answered more seriously, though he may have actually been meditating as well as chilling, we’re not sure.
“Obviously it was a little boring, but I have a little golf putting mat. I had a net to hit into, so I was hitting while I was at home still, so I still had that to do, and with Netflix nowadays, you can pretty much kill a lot of time. And then I was doing a lot of push-ups. When you’ve got spare time I guess you can work in some workouts too.”
Kendrick stepped in the first time on Thursday night and, of course, singled off left-hander Patrick Corbin.
Patrick Corbin threw 4 shutout innings.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 17, 2020
Howie Kendrick got a hit in his Summer Camp debut.
Juan Soto got a hit in his Summer Camp debut.
Carter Kieboom went 2-for-2 with a 2B.
The World Series Champion Washington Nationals went 1-0 yesterday.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/ARWwrHqfSG
“[Howie] is just a professional hitter,” manager Davey Martinez said. “[He] doesn’t see any pitches, and goes up and hits a bullet to center field in his first at bat. Pretty impressive.”
Following his second game in as many days, Kendrick said he felt good.
“Today, my timing was a lot better today. Yesterday was my first day, but today my timing was good. I think we play tomorrow.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot right now. I think the only thing I’ve got to work on is getting my legs back up to speed right now.”
Having missed two weeks of workouts in a three-week build-up to Opening Day, will the 37-year-old veteran be able to get ready in time?
“I’ll be ready,” Kendrick said. “Whether I am or not, I’ll be ready.”
What does he need to do to get ramped up in the limited time there is left before the 60-game season gets underway?
“I think the big thing is ... just getting at bats in and then just trying your best to get your timing down,” Kendrick said.
“If I can get my timing down,” he continued, “and we’ve got some things that can simulate that, working in the cage, and some things that I do during the season as well, I think that’s the biggest thing for me.
“The defense and stuff, we take a lot of ground balls. All that stuff will happen. And I’ll be able to get a lot of things done. But I think the biggest thing for me is just trying to get the timing down, and like I said, I’ve got some drills to help with that in the cage that I’ve done with [Hitting Coach] Kevin [Long].
“We just try to really focus on just basically having that timing. If you can get your timing, the rest will take care of itself. The decision-making and putting good swings on the ball, I think all of that stuff will just happen.”
As he said, whether or not he’s ready, he’ll be out there on Opening Day because it’s special for everyone involved.
“I’ll still have the same butterflies I have every year. I think every year you start the season it just becomes — you never forget that feeling,” Kendrick said.
“Opening Day since I was a kid has always been those butterflies. It’s been fun. Being a world champion that’s a dream come true.
“I relive those moments all the time. I run into people. I talk to a lot of friends.
“It’s cool to hear the stories and I still get goosebumps and chills to this day.
“To be a part of that run, and to do some of the things that happened, it’s truly special to me, and my family got to be a part of that, and now with COVID, I’m out here by myself right now, but we’ve got to make the most of this time. I came out, I’m going to miss my family, so hopefully we can get back to winning this year too.”