Dodgers’ Kendrick Likely to Miss Opening Day

GettyImages-481594032.0(Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Although he was hoping to be healthy and fully prepared to play on Opening Day, recent reports are suggesting that second baseman Howie Kendrick may be destined to begin the season on a very crowded Dodgers‘ disabled list.

The plan right now is to have Kendrick stay behind in Arizona with the minor league squads while the remainder of the team travels back to Los Angeles to prepare for the final exhibition series of the spring against the Angels. The Dodgers are hoping that his calf continues to progress — conceivably enough to cram in as many at-bats and fielding reps as possible in an effort to be ready for the opener on April 4.

Manager Dave Roberts isn’t really worried about the time frame it may take to get him ready once he’s cleared medically, citing Kendrick’s many years of experience as a huge bonus in having the ability to prepare rapidly.

“It’s progressed, but not enough to justify getting him back on the field,” Roberts told Eric Stephen of True Blue LA on Sunday. “Howie is feeling a little bit better today. The baseball activities are still a couple days away. The one nice thing is that he’s a veteran player who knows how to prepare for a major league season and get through it.”

Kendrick was a late scratch in last Thursday’s game against the Indians after suffering symptoms of a tight left calf, an injury that originated two days prior in a contest against the Royals. He also missed time earlier in camp with a strained groin, which combined with the calf issue, has left the second baseman with only 23 total at-bats in Cactus League games this spring.

The good news is if a player hasn’t appeared against major league competition in a preseason game, teams can backdate DL moves for up to 10 days at the beginning of the season. For Kendrick, that would translate into missing only the first five games of the regular season.

Having battled hamstring issues towards the end of last season, Kendrick was still able to post overall solid numbers for the 2015 campaign. He slashed .295/.336/.409, which was right in line with his career line of .293/.333/.423. With runners in scoring position, he hit .360/.398/.480 with six doubles and two home runs in 109 plate appearances.

Kendrick started at second base on Opening Day against the Padres last season, having gone 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, a run scored and one RBI.

Kendrick signed a two-year, $20 million contract in the offseason to return to Los Angeles after testing the free agent for the first time in his career. The right-handed hitting 32-year-old was originally acquired in a trade with the Angels for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, who was flipped via the Marlins in December of 2014.

Fortunately, second base is a spot where the Dodgers are very deep, having both Enrique Hernandez and Chase Utley seemingly available to split time if Kendrick ends up missing an extended stretch. If needed, Micah Johnson will also be ready at Oklahoma City should any additional depth be required at the keystone.

Hernandez has been dealing with an injury issue of his own, having been held out of several games recently as a result of being hit by pitches in the side and in the ribs. As of Sunday afternoon, the super utility man said he was healthy, and is expected to return to the lineup Monday night against the Rangers.

The Dodgers could potentially begin the 2016 regular season with up to eight players on the disabled list, including Kendrick, Brandon McCarthy, Frankie Montas, Hyun-jin Ryu, Brett Anderson, Andre Ethier, Mike Bolsinger and Yasmani Grandal.

On a brighter note, rookie shortstop Corey Seager is expected to return to Cactus League action within the next few days.

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