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Dodgers veteran Howie Kendrick to make first start in left field in five years

Dodgers veteran Howie Kendrick to make first start in left field in five years
Dodgers'Howie Kendrick, right, celebrates with a high-five as he enters the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice bunt by teammate A.J. Ellis (not in photo) in the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. (Victor Decolongon / Getty Images)

As far as lineup decisions go, this one did not come out of left field.

The day second baseman Howie Kendrick re-signed with the Dodgers in February, he spoke to Manager Dave Roberts about the possibility of playing the outfield, so it was hardly a shock to see Kendrick starting in left field against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

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Roberts just didn't expect Kendrick, who sat out much of spring training because of a groin injury and the first week of the regular season because of a calf injury, to be out there so soon.

Injuries that pushed outfielders Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke to the disabled list, and a desire to keep the bats of Kendrick and second baseman Chase Utley in the lineup necessitated the move. Kendrick has a .556 average (10 for 18) with a double and a home run against Arizona starter Rubby De La Rosa.

"In a perfect world, we would have gotten him more repetitions this spring, but you can't anticipate how a season is going to play out," Roberts said. "Losing Andre and Scott this early, the way Chase is playing, we wanted to keep him in there. Having Howie in there adds length to the lineup."

Kendrick, who played second base in Tuesday's home opener, made 20 big league starts in left field, all for the Angels in place of the injured Vernon Wells in 2011. He had one assist and no errors, his play leaning more toward adequate than spectacular.

"We're not going to make too much of it," Roberts said. "We just want him to be a baseball player who is playing a different position tonight."

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