CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies traded for Howie Kendrick in the offseason to add some punch to a lineup that finished last in baseball in runs scored last year. How much he ultimately contributes on the field won't be determined until the regular season.But general manager Matt Klentak also sent
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies traded for Howie Kendrick in the offseason to add some punch to a lineup that finished last in baseball in runs scored last year. How much he ultimately contributes on the field won't be determined until the regular season.
But general manager Matt Klentak also sent Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney to the Dodgers for the versatile 33-year-old because he wanted an experienced hitter who the younger players could observe, emulate and learn from. And that part of the equation already appears to be a success.
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It's not a coincidence that third baseman Maikel Franco and shortstop Freddy Galvis have been assigned to the same hitting group as Kendrick this spring. Not only that, but the outgoing Kendrick also makes it a point to joke with them in the clubhouse as well as talk about the finer points of the game at every opportunity.
"He's helped me a lot," Franco said. "I'm close to him. He wants to help me, and I can learn from him. He's been around the league. He knows a lot about hitting. As a young player, that's what I'm looking for. That's what I'm trying to figure out. Talking to him about hitting and situations, that's what I'm looking for right now."
Kendrick, who has been penciled in as the Phillies' regular left fielder after batting .255 while playing three infield positions as well as left for the Dodgers, said this is just the natural order of the game.
"I was there at one point," Kendrick said. "I know what that's like. Luckily enough for me, my first few years with the Angels, I had guys like Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero and Tim Salmon and some of those guys. They kind of ushered you along a little bit, showed you the ropes.
"They have great talent here, a lot of young guys who can play the game. I think that because they're so young, they don't necessarily have anybody to look to as far as understanding the game and growing in the game. If we all get moving in the right direction and play the game the right way and play hard, I think we can do a lot of good things."
Sometimes Kendrick will offer advice. Sometimes he'll answer questions. Sometimes he'll just provide an example of how to prepare. And sometimes he may have to play the role of the strict uncle.
"I was fortunate enough to play with some guys who played the right way," Kendrick said. "If you weren't hustling and doing the right things, they would come up and let you know. I feel like if guys aren't playing the game the right way, I want to be the person to step up and say, 'Hey, man, we can better. You can do better.'
"I play the game the right way and I play it hard, and hopefully that can rub off on some other guys, that they see that and say, 'Hey, I want to do that, too.'"
Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com.