- - Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Howie Kendrick admits he is too old and banged up physically to be an everyday player in the major leagues.

But the Washington Nationals veteran is more than qualified to keep hitting — and he has done that with amazing success this season.

The 36-year-old utilityman has hit ..444 in a 30-game stretch through Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis. The stretch includes after a three-hit performance in a win against the Cardinals on Tuesday and two more hits on Wednesday.

Howie, again. It is great to see,” Nationals bench coach Chip Hale said. “He is having a fantastic year. He’s a pro; he just knows how to do things.”

Kendrick is batting .343 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI in just 312 at-bats this season. He has played in 44 games at first base, 22 at second base and 15 at third for Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who did not make the trip to St. Louis due to health concerns. Hale is filling in as manager.

But Kendrick, no matter who the manager is, appreciates his role.

“I’m not going to complain one bit about the way I’ve been used,” Kendrick said. “When I play, I play. When I don’t, I’m ready to play and go in the game. And I’ve kind of streamlined that process a little more throughout the year. I’ve figured out, being in the National League, how to prepare myself and be ready.”

Kendrick was a designated hitter at times during his stay in the American League with the Los Angeles Angels from 2006 to 2014. He smashed a career-high 18 homers in 2011.

Kendrick jumped to the National League in 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has been in the National League ever since. As a National League bench player, Kendrick knows he has to be ready to pinch hit and be part of double switches.

Kendrick was traded to the Nationals from the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2017 season and hit .293 with Washington to help win an NL East title.
Kendrick ruptured his Achilles last season while playing left field at Nationals Park in May and hit .303 in just 40 games.

“If that was the last year of my deal, I don’t know if I would have been in the major leagues this year,” he said. “Because a lot of times, the way the league is now, bringing veteran guys back and being around the game, you don’t see too many veteran guys around anymore. Having the ability to come back to a place where I really enjoy and get to be around these guys and have fun … it’s been cool to be able to see these guys grow.”

Kendrick has made an impression on young players like Nationals center fielder Victor Robles and left fielder Juan Soto.

“It’s very, very impressive, the way he’s able to go out there and not be an everyday player, not necessarily because of his ability but because, physically, it’s hard and demanding, so he’s unable to play every day,” Robles said through team interpreter Octavio Martinez. “But the fact that he’s a bench player and comes off the bench and is able to keep his timing, his at-bats are just so impressive. He’s just a tremendous ballplayer.”

“He has been terrific for us,” general manager Mike Rizzo said on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday. “He is such a professional hitter and a professional gentleman.”

Kendrick said he has been able to stay young at heart being around players like Robles, Soto, third baseman Anthony Rendon and shortstop Trea Turner.
Kendrick works hard at his craft and gives a lot of credit to Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long.

“I have been putting in a lot of work with Kevin this year,” Kendrick said. “We have a lot of good, young guys. These guys keep you going every day.”

Washington begins a three-game series Friday at the Miami Marlins.

“You have to have a strong finish,” Kendrick said. “We have to compete the rest of the way. We have to stay on our ‘A’ game. Hopefully, it will work out.”

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