Angels Interview: Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick has hit in every stop throughout his minor league career. When he had just three hits in 22 at bats during his inaugural appearance with the Angels, it was simply an aberration.

This is the same kid that has been hailed as a future batting champion. He had a .401 average with the Sacramento Bees, the Angels Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League on June 16 and hit .385 or better in April, May, and June.

It apparently wasn't enough that he pounded out 107 hits, which included 44 extra base hits during his stint with the Bees.

Since returning to the Angels a second time, Howie Kendrick has shown why he is so highly touted. Call the first time around batting practice. He had 20 hits in 40 at bats from July 14 through the end of the month and sports an 11-game hitting streak, including six multi-hit contests in a row to start the streak off.

"It was a progression," Kendrick admits. "I think I made have made the adjustments and am ready."

But the Angels never feared for his bat, they questioned his defense – openly stating their beliefs that he needed to improve upon his play at second base.

"My defense has come around over the past few years and whenever they decide to keep me here I am ready," Kendrick countered. "I just try and hit it hard in practice. I think early on in my career I didn't understand that."

With Kendrick swinging a mighty club, he is in the short-term and long-term plans for the franchise, a cornerstone of what they are to become.

He learned a lot from being allowed to attend spring training with the big league club. While he has always displayed the maturity of a big leaguer, he had just 100 games above High-A coming into the season.

Watching manager Mike Scioscia and the swarm of veterans go about their business taught Kendrick to value his time spent there and to never taken anything for granted.

"I learn something here everyday," he admitted. "I think we all have room to grow."

As he stands on the threshold of a long major league career, the only real question that has lingered in regards to Kendrick's hitting is his ability to draw a walk. He has just three through 26 games with Anaheim and 12 in 69 games with Sacramento.

"To get on base, I will do anything," said Kendrick. "But I think if I stay aggressive and get ahead early in the count than I will have more of that."

It stands to reason that his on base percentage could be closely related to his batting average and if his .361 career average in a 361 game minor league career is any indication, and it is, drawing a walk won't be an issue.

What will be interesting to see as he continues to develop are the opportunities the Angels will have using Kendrick to open up the game. His bat control alone will open up hit-and-run opportunities and his speed will be an asset with his comfort level rising.

"I just try and stay through the middle of the field," Kendrick said of his bat control. "If they call my name for hit and runs or anything – I will do whatever I have to do to help the team."

Having won the West in two straight years and three of the last four, the Angels hope Kendrick is part of the core that tries to accomplish what the Atlanta Braves were able to do. Infuse youth into the lineup and watch the pennants come each year.

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