LOS ANGELES -- Nearly a month into his first season in the National League, Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick feels right at home. He had two more hits Saturday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh that helped lift the Dodgers to a 6-4 victory at Dodger Stadium.
Kendrick, who also singled and scored in the first inning, bumped his batting average to .294 and his on-base percentage to .355, right on par with his .292 average and .332 OBP he built during his 10-year career heading into Saturday night.
Kendrick spent his first nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels before coming over to the Dodgers in an offseason trade last winter. Postgame, he said he doesn’t sense much of a difference between the two leagues.
“I don’t really look at it as American and National,” he said. “The style of play, because you have the pitcher hitting, is a little different but, other than that, it’s still playing the game of baseball.”
Kendrick said he’s still getting to know many of the pitchers in the National League. Some players would visit the video room to study upcoming pitchers they've never faced before, but Kendrick has never been much of a video guy, instead relying on his view from the dugout.
“I kind if go off of feel and what I see that day,” he said. “The more simple I can keep it, the better off I’ll be. I just build off my own database. Once I see a guy, I can remember what he did to me, or what the ball looks like coming out [of his hand]. It’s just better to have that type of memory versus seeing it on video.”
Kendrick doesn’t study how a pitcher approaches the batter directly in front of him, more how a pitcher throws to a hitter that's similar to him.
“I think that’s the most important part because every game they’re going to work differently, depending on each guy,” he said. “That’s what the game’s about, making adjustments and just trying to keep moving, and I think that’s the biggest part of playing every day is, every day, you’ve got to make some kind of adjustment.”
Kendrick put that method to use in the seventh inning off Arizona reliever Evan Marshall, who got the first two outs before surrendering a tying home run to leadoff batter Joc Pederson. Justin Turner then doubled down the right-field line and the Diamondbacks elected to keep Marshall in to face Kendrick, who worked the count to 2-2 before grounding a base hit into right field, scoring Turner for a 5-4 lead.
“I just wanted to have a good at-bat,” Kendrick said. “You don’t ever want to give away any at-bats, especially with a runner in scoring position, so I was just trying to battle and he got a pitch out over the plate and I was able to put a good swing on it.”