Notebook: A’s already pleased with Kendall pickup
ANAHEIM, Calif. – In his first conversation with Jason Kendall, Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha could tell his team had made a good trade with the Pirates.
“He was so excited,” Macha said, “that his voice was jumping out of the phone.”
The A’s acquired Kendall from the Pirates on Nov. 27 for left-handed pitchers Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes.
After enduring nine losing seasons with the Pirates, Kendall joins a team that has made the post-season four of the past five years. Macha is glad to have Kendall aboard.
“It’s a good pick-up for us,” he said Sunday during a scheduled media session at the winter meetings. “I know what type of player he is, and he’ll fit in with the guys in the clubhouse. We don’t have many marquee guys in there.”
When the Pirates played a three-game series last year at Network Associates Coliseum, it wasn’t the first time Macha had watched Kendall in action. The Pirates and A’s also played a 2002 interleague series at PNC Park, and Macha was Kendall’s manager for a three-week period in the 1995 Arizona Fall League.
“He choked up on the bat, fouled off pitches, worked the count and used the middle of the field to hit,” Macha said, flashing back nine years. “He did all of the things he still does to this day. He hustles every ball out. He leaves it all out on the field. I’m not surprised that he’s had as much success as he’s had.”
Kendall collected over 1,400 hits and made three All-Star teams during his tenure with the Pirates. His value was conveyed to Macha when he spoke with Pirates hitting instructor Gerald Perry shortly after the trade was completed.
“The first thing he said was, ‘You took my best hitter. You’re killing me,'” Macha said.
Kendall batted primarily leadoff for the Pirates last season, but he could drop to second or third in the Athletics lineup. Although Kendall will be leaving behind PNC Park and its cavernous left-center alley, the Athletics aren’t sticking him lower in the order because they think he’ll hit more home runs after totaling three last season.
“Our organization stresses on-base percentage, and the idea is to score runs, not necessarily hit home runs,” Macha said. “The idea is to get on base, and that’s what he brings to the table.”