Moyer named fifth starter; Kendrick to 'pen
Veteran to round out Phils' rotation after impressive spring
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- After getting opposing pitcher Bud Norris to bounce a soft comebacker toward the mound that ended the bottom of the second inning, Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick jogged back to the dugout and began preparing himself for the next few innings as he continued a race for the No. 5 spot in the rotation that, in his mind, had not yet been decided.
Then, pitching coach Rich Dubee walked up to Kendrick and told him his day was finished.
"Something's up," Kendrick recalled thinking.
That something was the foregone conclusion Jamie Moyer established when he continued to defy the element of time and mowed through a mighty Yankees lineup on Friday, adding more luster to what has been a turn-back-the-clock spring for the 47-year-old left-hander.
Moyer will be the fifth starter in Philadelphia's rotation, manager Charlie Manuel announced after the Phillies' game against the Astros.
And it isn't because Kendrick can't handle that role or because he failed to show that this spring or even because Moyer posted slightly better numbers.
It's because Moyer has proven he's healthy, Kendrick is better suited for living a reliever's lifestyle, and Moyer's track record speaks for itself.
Because of that, seniority prevailed on Tuesday.
"We think it's the right way to go," Dubee said. "Jamie proved that he's healthy. That was the biggest question coming into Spring Training -- how he's going to come back from the surgeries. He's throwing the ball well, he's functioning well, and, again, this guy's got a tremendous track record of being a winning pitcher."
"Not that Kyle doesn't," Dubee cautioned.
Because while Kendrick came up short in locking up a spot in the Phillies' rotation, he was a winner in many ways this spring.
2010 Spring Training - Philadelphia Phillies
News & Features
- Few surprises with Phillies' Opening Day roster
- Phillies keep three lefties in 'pen, option Stutes
- Phillies cannot overcome Kendrick's early struggles
- Phillies confident with Halladay as second starter
- Manuel likely to keep Rollins in leadoff spot
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
After giving up a run in his two innings of work in an eventual 5-2 loss to the Astros, Kendrick's ERA this spring now stands at 1.66 through 21 2/3 innings.
How does that compare to where he stood at about this time last year?
"I don't even want to think about it," Kendrick said, laughing.
Now, he can think about flying up to Philadelphia, where Kendrick will start the season on the 25-man roster and likely serve as a long reliever -- though Dubee and Manuel said they're open to using him pretty much anywhere in relief.
"I've always liked Kendrick, and I've seen a lot of improvement in his pitching since last year," Manuel said. "He had a real good spring, and he's going to get to pitch quite a bit this year."
Last year, Kendrick had problems commanding his secondary pitches. And after a 9.20 ERA in four Grapefruit League games, he was optioned to the Minor Leagues on March 23 and ended up making just nine appearances (seven in relief) for the big league club in 2009.
"I just wanted to come in and have a good spring and just build off of last year; just get some good things rolling into the season," Kendrick said. "And I felt like I did that. I accomplished that. I was happy with the spring I had, and I learned a lot. This is the best spring I've had."
But this decision is not set in stone.
Last year, veteran Chan Ho Park beat out youngster J.A. Happ for the fifth spot in the rotation. But in May, the two swapped rolls after Park struggled, and Happ ended up turning in a fine rookie season.
Kendrick's goal is still to be a starting pitcher. But he'll gladly accept the second-best option -- being a big league reliever.
"I just have to stay ready," said Kendrick, who was speaking before being told his role since the game hadn't ended yet. "I love starting, I think I can be a good starter, but right now, if it is in the 'pen, go from there and help us win. I'm just excited about being on this team and the pitching we have."
The Phillies couldn't have written the battle for the fifth-starter spot any better.
Moyer was the frontrunner going in, and the most convenient occurrence was for the crafty southpaw to win the spot, because he can't really be used as a reliever. Manuel made the point Tuesday that while Moyer had success out of the bullpen last year -- he posted a 1.93 ERA in 18 2/3 innings -- he never got any fewer than two days' rest.
"I don't see Jamie Moyer bouncing back [to pitch on short rest as a reliever]," Manuel said. "People said last year he pitched good out of the bullpen, [but] he had two rain delays, he had a lot of time to get up and everything like that.
"He's never done that before, and you're talking about a different animal."
After 6 2/3 one-hit innings his last time on the mound, Moyer -- coming off three offseason surgeries -- put his Grapefruit League ERA at 0.77 after 11 2/3 innings to pretty much run away with the last job in the starting rotation, joining righties Roy Halladay and Joe Blanton and lefties Cole Hamels and Happ.
But Dubee wanted to make sure he made one point clear about Kendrick: "He won a job."
"He didn't lose the starter's job," Dubee said. "I mean, in my mind, it was going to be a tough thing to do if Jamie was healthy to win that job from Jamie Moyer. Kyle won a job on our roster."
Coming off a solid season as a starter for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, then a nice September in the big leagues, Kendrick's improved slider, cutter and changeup contributed to a great spring.
But so did the wise Moyer himself.
On the field, the two were fighting for a starting nod. Off of it, though, they shared a nice friendship despite a 22-year age discrepancy.
Kendrick got some welcomed mentoring from Moyer, as well as texts that read things like: "I'm proud of you," "You're coming a long way," and, "Great job."
"I'm very close with [Moyer's] whole family and stuff, and he's just been great help with me," the 25-year-old Kendrick said.
"I might not have a good spring if it wasn't for him."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.