Dubee sees Kendrick reclaiming role
Pitching coach views righty as favorite for No. 5 starter's job
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Some people think J.A. Happ is the favorite to win the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation. Others think it is Chan Ho Park.
But somebody should have asked Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, who will play a major role in determining the composition of the pitching staff. He said Sunday at Bright House Field that he considers Kyle Kendrick the favorite to reclaim the job he lost late last year. Kendrick is in a four-man competition that includes Happ, Park and Carlos Carrasco.
"I will not forget about the job he has done for us," Dubee said. "To me, he's the leading guy going in as the fifth starter because of what he's done. That doesn't mean my eyes are closed to the other candidates by any means, but again, Kyle is going to have to show he can command his slider, show he's willing to use his changeup and show that he can get left-handed hitters out better."
Kendrick went 1-4 with an 11.35 ERA in six starts from Aug. 11 to Sept. 3 last season to lose his spot in the rotation. Baseball, like many sports, is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately game. But fortunately for Kendrick, Dubee remembers everything.
Dubee remembers that Kendrick went 21-13 with a 4.78 ERA in two seasons with the Phillies.
Dubee remembers that Kendrick pitched well enough to start Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Rockies in 2007.
Dubee remembers that Kendrick is a big reason why the Phillies made the playoffs the past two seasons.
"It is a little refreshing to hear that," Kendrick said. "But you still have to go out and do well. I don't expect anything less. That's in my mind. That's where I expect to be. Nothing against my other teammates, but that's where I want to be."
Of course, to get there, Kendrick will have to do everything that Dubee asks.
Like get left-handers out. They have hit .329 against Kendrick in his career, compared to .258 for right-handers.
Like throw that changeup for strikes.
"I'm really not too concerned about how it is on the side," Dubee said. "I'm concerned about how good it is between the lines. Kyle has some adjustments to make. He's aware of it."
"It's gotten a lot better," Kendrick said of his changeup. "I feel comfortable throwing it now. The last couple years, it's been a thing where you don't want to throw it. But it feels good. It feels real good. I threw it a lot in the offseason. They told me, 'You've got to throw it or you might be somewhere you don't like.' I threw it every day. But it doesn't matter until you test it in a game and get guys out with it. I know I can throw it for strikes, and that's good."
Kendrick said he learned from last season's struggles. Philadelphia sent him to the Florida instructional league after the Phils' regular-season finale to stay sharp. He rejoined the team for the World Series, but wasn't on the active roster.
"It hurt a lot," he said. "It did. ... [But] going through that last year helped me a lot mentally. It's going to help me further my career."
Kendrick got to Clearwater on Feb. 1 to get ready for Spring Training. He has some tough competition in the coming weeks, but in the eyes of Dubee, he has the edge.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.