TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick's expected rise to stardom was delayed last season by bad breaks, both in his left hand. He feels lucky this spring, healthy again and happy he wasn't traded.
The 24-year-old Kendrick was considered the centerpiece of a swap the Angels tried to work out with Florida for third baseman Miguel Cabrera. The deal didn't happen, and Cabrera was traded to Detroit.
``The beginning of December, somebody called me and said, 'Hey, your name has been mentioned,''' Kendrick said. ``I checked it out. Miguel Cabrera is a very good player, has put up some ridiculous numbers.
``He was a hot commodity. He ended up with the Tigers and in a sense, it feels good to me. This is home to me and I love to play here. This is where I want to be and hopefully I'll be here for a long time. It's a great team, a great atmosphere.''
Kendrick hit .322 with five homers and 39 RBIs last year in what was supposed to be his first full season with the Angels. He was limited to 88 games because of two fractures, to his left middle finger when hit by a pitch on April 18, and to his left index finger, broken on a swing on July 14.
The Angels only reluctantly would have dealt him and two other young players the Marlins apparently wanted.
``We were talking about moving three guys who are all homegrown, good guys,'' Angels owner Arte Moreno said. ``That's where emotion comes in. Look at Howie Kendrick, (catcher Jeff) Mathis, (pitching prospect Nick) Adenhart.
``Obviously, it didn't get done.''
Kendrick was relieved.
``There was an ease after everything blew over,'' he said. ``There will be more trade talks in years to come, but my job is to focus on playing baseball wherever I am. I guess the more times it happens, when your name crops up, you worry about it less.
``If you're going to play well, people are going to want you, and hopefully I can play well and stay here.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia is fully aware of Kendrick's potential. He batted between .342 and .384 in five successive seasons in the minors, and has hit .306 with nine home runs and 69 RBIs in 160 major league games.
``He was terrific last year, considering how much time he missed,'' Scioscia said. ``He has the potential to be an impact offensive player. I hope we'll get a full year to look at him this year.''
Homers aren't Kendrick's strong suit, but he does double a lot, including 24 in his 338 at-bats last season.
``His swing doesn't lend itself to lifting the ball,'' Scioscia said. ``He's going to be a terrific offensive player, and I don't think people are going to be looking at home runs and say, 'Hey.'
``He's got great alley power and is going to give you an occasional home run. He hits the ball hard.''
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