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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-03-08

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-03-08

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-03-08
Last month, pitching coach Rich Dubee declared right-hander Kyle Kendrick a slight favorite to win the four-way competition to be the Phillies' fifth starter. And while that may still be the case, Dubee wants to see more before giving Kendrick the job.

Specifically, he's watching Kendrick's body language.

Kendrick drew criticism from Dubee on March 5 when, during the third inning against the U.S. team for the World Baseball Classic, he hoisted his arms in frustration after consecutive plays didn't go the Phillies' way. One batter later, he left a fastball up in the strike zone, and Chipper Jones belted it for a three-run home run.

"He threw up his arms like, 'poor me' or whatever, and that doesn't show controlling your emotions right there," Dubee said. "You hate to see a guy struggle, but somewhere during the course of the season, you are going to face adversity.

"You look at that inning, and he threw the ball OK. (Shane) Victorino hits a high chopper. Jimmy (Rollins) hits a ball in the hole. (Dustin) Pedroia hits a ball in the hole. That's going to happen to a sinkerball pitcher. But the sooner he starts to understand he can still get two outs quickly with a good pitch -- another sinker gets a groundball for a double play -- the more he's going to be able to make adjustments and be down in the strike zone."

Kendrick's poise was among his top attributes in 2007 when he unexpectedly got called up to the majors from Class AA Reading and went 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA. But he was more easily rattled last season, losing his spot in the rotation in September. He's fighting to regain it during spring training, but he faces competition from lefty J.A. Happ, veteran right-hander Chan Ho Park and top pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco.

"From this point on, the race is on," Dubee said after each pitcher had made two spring training appearances with mixed results. "I haven't been evaluating yet. But like I said, the race is on right now. I would've liked to have seen a little more improvement, but again, it's early yet."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 8, 2009

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