Results tagged ‘ Jason Kendall ’

FanFest photos: Pitchers (and catcher) take the stage

FanFest Day 2 002.jpgJason Kendall’s daughter had a birthday on Friday.  The new Royals backstop spent the day celebrating with his family, then caught an early Saturday flight to Kansas City for FanFest.  The plane almost diverted away from K.C. due to fog.  Jason arrived just in time for his first event, a Q&A on the main stage with the pitchers.  Zack Greinke fielded the most questions of the group.  He provided entertaining answers on everything from golf to his honeymoon to his interest in World of Warcraft. Let’s take a look at the event:

 

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Jason Kendall: Gritty veteran

Kendall.jpgIndependence Day is usually filled with fireworks, barbecues and time with friends and family.  July 4, 1999 was not a celebration for Jason Kendall - it was a career crossroads. 

Kendall, who had turned 25 just eight days earlier, came into that day’s matinee against Milwaukee with a .335 average, fourth in the National League.  Kendall looked to maintain the mark by running out a bunt attempt.  What ensued was one of the most gruesome injuries in baseball history as Kendall dislocated his right ankle.  He underwent surgery the same day. 

Some athletes may not have returned from the injury.  Kendall did that and much more.  Twelve months and one week after the incident, Kendall started in the All-Star Game!  He went on to set personal bests in doubles and home runs while becoming the first Pittsburgh catcher to score 100 runs in a season.

Fast forward nearly a decade from Kendall’s banner season in 2000.  Critics are quick to point out that his speed has slowed a bit or that his batting average has dipped.  However, Kendall sees an opportunity to rebound, an opportunity to prove himself.  The voice on the other end of Friday’s teleconference had the exuberance of a rookie and the experience of a 14-year veteran. 

Kendall says that he sees the game differently now than when he broke into the majors.  He says it took him six to seven years to master the craft of calling a Major League game.  It’s not an easy thing to do and Kendall had an added advantage of growing up as the son of a big league catcher. 

The ability to call the game attracted the Royals.  General Manager Dayton Moore sees Kendall as one of baseball’s better game callers.  He sees good blocking skills and a batter who works the count.  Beyond those traits, Moore recognizes the intangibles that Kendall brings to the club: experience, a no-nonsense approach, an old-school attitude, a player who is respected by peers and coaches alike.  That makes Kendall someone who will, as Moore put it,  “shape the culture” of the catching philosophy in Kansas City. 

While the Royals were scouting Kendall, the catcher likewise kept an eye on Kansas City.  His dad, Fred, was the bullpen coach in 2006 and 2007.  The elder Kendall told Jason about the young group of players in Kansas City.  Jason has watched the Royals on MLB Extra Innings.  He sees the talent in the young players and believes that the Royals are ready to take the next step. 

Kendall spoke about his love for the game and a desire to give back to the game by mentoring Kansas City’s pitching staff.  He sees mentoring as his number one priority and is excited to catch Zack Greinke.  The veteran still carries the same determination that helped him return from the ankle injury.  That hard-nosed style of play should make him a fan favorite in the heartland.

ROYALS SIGN JASON KENDALL TO TWO-YEAR CONTRACT

The Kansas City Royals today signed catcher Jason Kendall to a two-year contract through the 2011 season.  Consistent with club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The 35-year old is a career .290 hitter with 376 doubles, 177 stolen bases and a .369 on-base percentage in 14 Major League seasons with the Pirates (1996-2004), A’s (2005-07), Cubs (2007) and Brewers (2008-09).  He was selected to the National League All-Star squad in 1996, 1998 and 2000 and has appeared in postseason play with the A’s (2006), Cubs (2007) and Brewers (2008).  Kendall has drawn 684 walks and struck out just 641 times in his career, joining Gary Sheffield, Chipper Jones, Brian Giles, Todd Helton and Albert Pujols as one of six active players to record more walks than strikeouts with at least 500 walks in his career.  The durable Kendall is the only catcher in the Majors to make at least 130 starts in each of the last eight seasons and currently ranks 10th on the all-time list in games caught (1,907) and fifth in games started behind the plate (1,872). 

The 6-foot, 192-pounder, in his second season with the Brewers in 2009, hit .241 with 19 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 43 RBI and 48 runs scored in 134 games.  He led the club with 17 hit by pitches and now has 248 in his career, good for fifth all-time.  Kendall recorded his 2,000th career hit on May 18 at St. Louis, becoming the eighth player in Major League history to record 2,000 hits with at least 1,000 games at catcher.  He is one of 19 active players to enter the 2010 season with at least 2,000 hits.

Born in San Diego, Calif., Kendall now lives in Pacific Palisades, Calif.  He has a son, Kuyper, and a daughter, Karoline.  Kendall is the son of former Major League catcher and former Royals bullpen coach Fred Kendall. 

We are about to sit in on a conference call with Dayton Moore, followed by a conference call with Jason Kendall.  We will bring you the details of those events.

 

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