Adjustments benefit Kendrick, Polanco
No. 5 candidate more confident; shift to third no easy task
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay made his highly anticipated Phillies debut on Thursday at Bright House Field, but there were more things to watch than just Halladay mowing down the Yankees.
There was Kyle Kendrick, who is fighting for the last job in Philadelphia's rotation, and there was Placido Polanco, who is learning to play third base again.
Kendrick is competing with Jamie Moyer for the starting staff's final spot. He took a good first step, allowing just one hit and striking out one in two shutout innings. Kendrick is a more confident pitcher this spring than last. He entered Spring Training last year with a chance to win a spot in the rotation but had not effectively developed his secondary pitches, so he spent most of the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"I think confidence-wise, there's a big difference," Kendrick said. "It's totally different. Coming off the year I had in '08, everybody was in the playoffs and I was down here in the [instructional league]. I didn't have confidence in my changeup. I didn't know where I was going to be, and I was always looking over my shoulder. I knew I had to go to Triple A and get better. I'm pretty comfortable with where I'm at."
Polanco is playing third base for the first time since 2005. He committed a throwing error in the first inning and couldn't handle a popup in foul territory a few innings later, but he fielded his other three chances cleanly.
"You couldn't ask for another day like that," Polanco said. "I got them all. Ground ball in, right, left, fly ball -- good test for the first day."
Polanco said he did not set his feet properly for his throw in the first inning.
"My muscle memory, being a middle infielder my whole life, you want to get rid of the ball quick," Polanco said. "That's what I did. You have to realize you have more time at third base. I have to learn that -- set my feet and make a good throw. It was very important to get the first one out of the way."
"He's all right," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It doesn't bother me. I've seen him play. Polanco is a good player. You won't see him miss too many."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.