Kendrick, Rockies see good fits in each other

Kendrick, Rockies see good fits in each other

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Even before signing with the Rockies this past offseason, right-handed pitcher Kyle Kendrick saw a team that fit his style.

Having spent eight years pitching his home games in a small park with the Phillies, he knows the importance of relying on his defense. And you can't get much better than a Rockies infield with a combined five Rawlings Gold Glove Awards (two each for Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado, one for DJ LeMahieu) plus three in the outfield (all owned by Carlos Gonzalez).

"It's a Gold Glove infield, I know that," Kendrick said. "The outfield is fast. The defense is great. I've played against these guys, so I've seen that firsthand. I just had to be on the other end of it. If you keep the ball down and get ground balls, you get outs."

The philosophy is simple and is often preached to Rockies pitchers, but for the Rockies, it's good to have someone who has experience doing it. The only Rockies pitcher with more Major League experience than Kendrick, 30, is lefty Jorge De La Rosa.

Kendrick (74-68, 4.42 ERA in 226 career games/185 starts) has made just one postseason start -- in the 2007 National League Division Series, when the World Series-bound Rockies swept the Phillies -- but that's greater than the sum total of Rockies pitchers. Kendrick can at least share old stories with Tulowitzki and closer LaTroy Hawkins, who were on the happier side of that game and series. But experience is experience.

"He brings some things that, quite honestly, we don't have," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

The Rockies also want durability from Kendrick, who signed for one year and $5.5 million -- with a $500,000 bonus for throwing in 190 or more innings. Kendrick pitched 199 innings last season.

Kendrick made a possibly significant move toward durability before camp, by arriving at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick two weeks early to acclimate himself to a drier climate. It's not pitching at the same altitude as in Denver, but better preparation for it than a humid climate.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.