After a struggle in the first 1/3 of the 2009 season, Angels 2Bman Howie Kendrick is being sent to AAA to work on his swing.
Since injuring his hamstring last Summer, he has never attained the promise that glimmered in his first few seasons in an Angels uniform. Unlucky with a HBP to the finger in 2007 (which really hurts to think about when you have to type it), he was laid to the DL by bad hammys, healing just in time to find he had lost his stroke and been scouted too well by a postseason opponent. In 2009 he was the most unclutch rally killer in an Angel uniform since Gary DiSarcina's single-digit Win Shares seasons of the PaleoSciosciazoic era.
What happened to the promise? The hype? The jaded baseball men suddenly drooling "Future Batting Champion" with equal parts lust and envy? Where have they gone? Where did Howie's swing go?
In addition to the league catching up to a one-dimensional batter, my casual observation is that Howie Kendrick no longer crowds the plate and his short reach has thus suffered. How one works on this when the chance at another broken hand exists is beyond me, the fan, the blogger, not the man in the trenches, the coach in the minor league town, the teammate with an observation of NathanHaynesian proportion.
There are few players that Mike Scioscia has so publicly raved about as he has Howie Kendrick. Even the timing of the move, home after a long road trip, seems done with deference to the player understanding that this is in no way a demotion of punishment but a forced tutorial in, well don't tell his wife but in swinging.
When he can recognize that low and away pitch in order to lay off it to force that fastball to be sent his way, Howie Kendirck will be back in the Anaheim side of L.A., hitting the cover off the ball and doing the radio and television commercials for that local electronices chain that shares his name. One of those return engagements will bring a roar of approval to the Popuuli Halous. The commercials will remain on mute.