|Kendall welcomes change of scenery, return to NL|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 17 July 2007 14:30|
``I said, 'Where is it?' He said, 'Cubs.' I said, 'All right, let's do it,''' Kendall said Tuesday after joining Chicago and being put right into the lineup and batting seventh against the San Francisco Giants.
``It was a no-brainer.''
Kendall, a three-time All-Star with Pittsburgh, is a career .298 hitter but was batting just .226 with the Athletics, who are making rookie Kurt Suzuki their starter.
The 33-year-old Kendall was traded Monday for catcher Rob Bowen and minor league left-hander Jerry Blevins. Oakland also sent the Cubs $4,541,257 to cover the remainder of Kendall's salary, which was $13.4 million this season.
Kendall said the A's were headed in another direction with Suzuki and it was time to go.
``I'm at the point in my career where I'm not ready to be a tutor,'' Kendall said. ``I want to win.''
Kendall said he hopes his return to the National League - he spent nine seasons with the Pirates - and a change of scenery will get him out of his offensive funk. He added that Wrigley Field was his favorite place to play of all the major league parks.
``Now I get to do it on a daily basis,'' he said.
Kendall, who took an early flight Tuesday morning from the Bay Area, becomes the sixth catcher to start a game for the Cubs this season. Michael Barrett, whose defense was spotty and who got into a fight with ace Carlos Zambrano, was the starter out of spring training because of his strong bat. But he was traded to the Padres in a deal that brought Bowen to Chicago.
Along with Bowen, other Cubs catchers have been Henry Blanco, Koyie Hill and Geovany Soto, who was optioned back to Triple-A on Tuesday to make room on the roster for Kendall.
``Is it really six? How about that?'' manager Lou Piniella said. ``We only had six starting pitchers, right? One for each.''
The Cubs like the durable Kendall's experience and grittiness and Piniella said he'll probably catch four or five games a week once he gets a feel for the staff.
``Whatever Lou wants me to do I'll do,'' Kendall said, adding a quick qualifier with some humor. ``As long as I'm not hitting ninth.''
That's where Kendall found himself hitting with the A's for most of this season. Of course, the pitcher bats ninth in the NL.
``I scuffled the whole year,'' said Kendall, known during his career for a high on-base percentage and an ability to take pitches and draw walks.
``He'll give you a good, professional at-bat,'' Piniella said.
When Kendall headed out to Wrigley Field on Tuesday night for his first at-bat in a Cubs uniform, he saw a familiar figure - Barry Zito, his former Oakland teammate now struggling with the Giants.
``Funny, I got called in and they said Zito was pitching. I said, 'I know him.' If there is anybody who knows him, it's me,'' Kendall said. ``Ironic, I guess. Kinda neat.''
Kendall said he enjoyed his time in Oakland, especially last season when the A's and Zito went to the playoffs, losing to Detroit in the ALCS.
``I made a lot of friends over there. There are a lot of good baseball people over there,'' Kendall added.
Now he's in a new clubhouse with a team that is hoping to get to the postseason. He's been reunited with third baseman Aramis Ramirez, his former Pittsburgh teammate.
``They've been playing great baseball,'' Kendall said. ``I just want to go out and help out.''
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this story.