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Kendrick's journey to bigs made possible by dad

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Kendrick has talked or texted with his father after every start since his big league debut in 2007.

It has become part of his routine.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Kendrick has talked or texted with his father after every start since his big league debut in 2007.

It has become part of his routine.

It is one of the best parts.

"I think the love of the game I have is from my dad," Kendrick said about his father, Maury. "He coached us in Little League all the way up. Growing up, when he was playing, he would always take me to the field. I was just always around the game with him. And he still loves it. He's always loved the game. He grew up around it."

Because the Phillies will be in Colorado on Sunday for Father's Day, they honored Maury Kendrick before their June 2 game against the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park.

"I got the e-mail from the Phillies, and I was in tears, honestly," Maury said. "It was really an honor, nice deal."

Kendrick smiled as that story is retold. Maury had similar reactions when the Phillies selected his son in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Mount Vernon High School in Washington, when his son his made his first big league start and following other memorable moments and milestones along the way. Maury said it has been incredible to watch his son's journey from Draft pick to surprise contributor in 2007 to reliable starter in the Phillies rotation after a few years of struggles.

"Like a lot of people didn't believe that this would happen, I did," Maury said. "It's something about the work ethic going back. He's had a lot of ups and downs, obviously. And he's stayed within himself and worked hard and started development of his secondary pitches. And obviously the changeup is the big one. So, you know, just believing in himself and knowing this would happen. I think Kyle has always known this is where he was going to end up and I think he still has an upside to him. Just because of the work ethic."

Kyle said he could not have gotten there without his father's help. He provided the equipment. He coached. He taught him the game.

"Well, I love baseball," Maury said. "I'm a baseball freak, honestly. It's been my passion all my life. I wanted to be here at one point of my life. To have a son doing it is just as good, if not better. His brothers played. They're all ballplayers. Baseball has been a big, big part of our family and our lives."

Maury played semi-pro ball, but was never drafted.

"I took some bad turns in life when I was in college," he explained. "I shared that with the kids. And Kyle bought into it. Kyle was a poster child for saying no to drugs and alcohol in high school. And he was such a good athlete. Peer pressure never got to him. Kids didn't push him because he was a leader in all the sports. He knew what he wanted to do and he wasn't going to let that get in the way. To his credit, because it's not easy to do that."

Said Kyle: "He didn't want us to make the same mistakes he made. I took that all the way, from high school to Minor League ball to the Majors. He basically said, just stay focused on what you're doing and don't let other things sidetrack you. Don't go down the wrong road."

Kendrick has never had any problems staying out of trouble. He has had no off-the-field issues since he has been in the organization.

He has had to worry only about baseball.

Of course, there have been tough times. The Phillies optioned Kendrick to Triple-A in 2009. Maury helped him through that rough stretch.

"I think that was hard," Maury said. "Big time. I told him to just keep working hard, work on those secondary pitches and he'd be back up there. And sure enough, that happened. I know you guys know this but a lot of guys, when that happens, they're gone. Because of Kyle's mental strength, it's really is there. He's had to battle through a lot of adversity in his career. That was probably the biggest time for him, where you could have gone either way. You could have said, 'Screw it, I got sent to the minors, I'm done.' And a lot of guys do that. But he didn't. He bought into it. He realized he needed some secondary pitches and, thankfully, he did the work. And it's paying off."

Kendrick expressed his appreciation for his father's help along the way.

"I have a great relationship with my dad," Kyle said. "He's not only my dad, he's a good friend of mine, too. He's been great for my brothers, my sister and me. I can't say enough. He's been a good guy to follow in this game."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for

Philadelphia Phillies, Kyle Kendrick