Notes: Kendrick on re-signing; first look at third base

February 18th, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As celebrated the Nationals' World Series championship last year, he wasn’t certain if he would be reunited with his teammates this season. He had a hunch, though.

“I had a good idea I was going to be back here,” Kendrick said Tuesday at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. “I didn’t worry about that too much. I had a few teams talking to me this offseason, but the biggest thing for me is, this was probably my No. 1 spot. I had communication with [general manager Mike] Rizzo, and he knew how I felt. And I knew how the team felt, too. So it worked out.”

The 15-year veteran infielder inked a one-year deal with Washington in early December. Bringing back the reigning National League Championship Series MVP winner added to the continuity of the 2020 roster, which also includes the re-signing of World Series MVP .

“It’s awesome, especially coming off a World Series, having an opportunity to come back here and be a part of this team in a place that I love being,” Kendrick, 36, said. “We’ve got a lot of guys returning this year, and it feels good. A lot of familiar faces, and a lot of good people.”

While Kendrick was reunited with many former teammates, there was also a new face in the clubhouse this season. Kendrick hit the go-ahead home run off reliever , who signed with the Nationals in January, during Game 7 of the World Series. That moment was left in the past as they embark on the same mission this year.

“He’s a great dude,” Kendrick said. “We talked in the weight room. We have some mutual friends. That’s about it. There’s really nothing to say.”

Manager Dave Martinez plans to have Kendrick play mostly first and second base during Spring Training, with the possibility of time at third later in camp. His experience and knowledge could be valuable to projected starting third baseman , whose 11 Major League games have been at shortstop. Kendrick expects his role will be similar to last season, when he appeared in 121 regular-season games.

“It’ll probably be around the same,” Kendrick said. “I haven’t really talked to Davey, but I’m ready for whatever. I don’t ever really complain about much. I’m ready to go whenever he needs me to do something. My biggest thing is trying to stay healthy.”

That’s the kind of mentality the Nationals will be looking for with a versatile lineup to defend their title.

“There’s no selfish guys here, and everybody wants to win,” Kendrick said. “It’s going to be a fun year.”

Eaton future-focused
has a replica World Series trophy in his basement. He, with the rest of the team, will get fitted for championship rings this week. Beyond that, he wants to put the 2019 victory in his rearview mirror. Banking on their past successes, he believes, will not help the Nationals defend this season.

“That’s over with,” Eaton said. “I can’t wait to put it behind us after Opening Day. I just want this year to be the same as last year -- coming in focused, ready to go. The more we think about last year, the worse off we’re going to be.”

Eaton had been looking forward to the first full-squad workout for months. He only took 10 days off before getting back to work for his ninth Major League season.

“You want to get everyone on the same page early and know that we’re here for the long haul and we’re shooting for another one,” he said.

A first look at third base
The Nats got a glimpse of their potential future starting third baseman on Tuesday when Carter Kieboom went through fielding drills on the hot corner with veteran . The 22-year-old played shortstop in his 11 Major League appearances last season, and he prepared for the change this winter. Kieboom said there were “no surprises” on the field in the workout.

“It felt great,” he said. “It was fun to get out there, fun to be with the group again. The first day’s always a great day to be out there with everybody.”

Kieboom also applied his offseason batting work in the cage during BP.

“I made my legs a lot longer, staying behind the baseball a lot longer than I ever have before,” he said. “I feel really good with my swing and where everything’s at.”