We were leaving a gas station in Pittsburgh when I saw a paper wtibh “Spring Training Preview!” as the headline. I needed something to help me re-enter thinking about baseball, so I gave it a look. A series of revelations deteriorated my interest like the sharp-toothed streets of the Steel City (Seriously, you go through tires like paper towels out there):
- Mmm. It’s USA Today. Risky.
- $2.00?! I’m not even paying $2.00 for a king size candy bar. And I can eat that.
- Joba Chamberlain is on the cover, screaming.
Yeah, thanks for playing. I left the rag with the door’s exit-chime.
This week’s Cole Hamels update brought to you by Brian Schneider, who caught him for the first time this week: “The velocity was there.”
Oh, there it is. Granted, Schneider’s not going to head over to the press corps just after catching his new teammate and reveal, “Wow, the guy is trash. I am not a fan. Let’s hope Halladay is prepared to win 40 games, otherwise 2010 is just a waste of everybody’s time.” But Cole’s been putting in the hours so there’s no reason to assume Schneider’s words aren’t perfectly applicable.
And yet, it seems Cole’s drama is old news, as the Phillies warm up a whole new slice of speculation pie, and the man getting a bib tied around his neck is Kyle Kendrick.
Yes, Kendrick is getting his own brand new set of headlines. Seems Jamie Moyer was still considered the lock for that fifth starter spot until recently, for… some reason. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but any 45+ year old on the receiving end of three surgeries shouldn’t be a sure thing for driving to work or operating light machinery, let alone going six or seven quality innings every five days.
And now Kyle Kendrick, a guy who had an entire gaggle of reporters laugh in his face (3:38), is now in the spotlight, and Rich Dubee practically shoved his way to the microphone to tell everybody just how awesome he is.
“Kyle Kendrick was very good today. Really good.”
“I’m excited, that’s good to hear,” Kendrick replied to a giggling circle of the popular press. “Do you know if he has a date to Homecoming?” he added.
Dubee’s unprovoked positive outburst is coupled with Charlie Manuel saying Kendrick now has a “major league slider” to garnish his signature sinker. So, whether it feels like a junior high hallway or not, it’s now crystal that Jamie Moyer’s got to do a bit more than get steamed over doubts stemming from the fact that he’s older and re-habbing to sink his teeth into that fifth spot.
Oh, and also, Kyle Kendrick’s saddled on up to Roy Halladay and become his workout partner, so you know. That could help. Roy seems to know a thing or two about work ethic, I guess.
Maybe this is all part of a massive psychological war on Jamie Moyer, which would be hilarious, but the coaching staff is really going out of its way to pat Kendrick on the back. I’ve never seen him get this much attention from everybody, and historically, Dubee’s hardly been his biggest pal (“[Kendrick] threw his arms up like, poor me, or whatever, and that doesn’t show control of your emotions” –Rich Dubee, March 2009)
There’s no arm-throwing in baseball. UPDATE: There absolutely is. There’s no self-pitying arm-throwing in baseball. Whatever damage is inflicted upon breaking this rule, Kendrick’s seemed to have done enough to make up for it, otherwise Dubee wouldn’t be dropping flowery little compliments all over the press conference, so hot damn. Spring Training just got a lot more not about stalking Roy Halladay, speculation on Cole Hamels’ odds of a chidlike temper tantrum, or sticking a finger in Brad Lidge’s face and demanding explanations.
This was a lot to think about as we Suburban-ed our way down 76 E, passing a church with giant white letters informing us that “JESUS IS ALIVE.”
“Maybe he’s the boost the Buccos need this year,” somebody said.
Philadelphia, 287 miles.