Ever wonder if Howie Kendrick looks down on his jersey and is still taken aback a bit? After all those years of seeing "Angels" across his chest, "Dodgers" is still looking a bit foreign and unnatural?
He spent over 12 seasons in the Angels organization, the last nine years as their second baseman. And then at age 31, was traded up the road to the Dodgers.
As transitions go, that's probably about as easy as it gets, or at least he's making it look that way. After his first 55 games, he's appeared very at home as a Dodger.
He's batting .293, has six home runs, 27 RBI, 31 runs and 12 doubles. He's played a steady second base and has teamed with shortstop Jimmy Rollins to give the Dodgers an effective double-play combo.
New team, same results.
"I live for where I'm at," Kendrick said. "I think that’s the biggest thing. I cherish the time I spent with the Angels. Twelve years there, minor leagues and major leagues – it helped shape me to be the player I am now.
"Coming to this organization, I’m bringing everything I learned there here. I’ve been successful doing that so far, and I’m going to try and continue to play it the way I know how. As far as the uniform, guys switching so often nowadays, I don’t think there are many guys who stay in one uniform."
With the Dodgers losing Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, Kendrick has also answered a need in the middle of the lineup. He’s hit either third or fourth almost all season.
"It doesn’t matter where I hit, I feel comfortable," he said. "Over the years I just figured out who I was as a hitter. I don’t think I change my approach. I just try to be who I am."
That’s a benefit from having played in the majors for nine seasons.
Kendrick drove in all three of the Dodgers’ runs in their 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Kendrick also had three hits Monday in his first start since jamming his right knee June 3 in Colorado. Kendrick said he wasn’t sure how serious the injury was when the team first returned home.
"After I got off the plane, I didn’t know because it was really stiff," he said. "The next day we got in and I did a lot of icing. I probably did more icing in those couple of days than I did all of last year.
"I was kinda concerned at first, but once I got better the second day and knew I could move it a lot more, and we had the MRI, then I knew I’d be better off than I thought I would be."
He did not start any of the four games against St. Louis, but after he returned, once again looked right at home.
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