A little over two years ago possibly the greatest prank in pro sports took place. The star of the show was pitcher Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick was coming off of a rookie year where he went 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA while finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. The director of this masterpiece was fellow starter Brett Myers, who was coming off a 2007 which saw him go from opening day starter, to rock star closer. The stage was set and the audience was ready to see how the young pitcher would handle the shock that was awaiting him.
After morning workouts in Clearwater Kendrick was summoned to manager Charlie Manuel's office where he was informed by Charlie that the team had made a trade. He explained that even though the Phillies were grateful for the year Kendrick had in 2007 it was a move that they felt was necessary. Kendrick would be traded to the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Baseball League. The salt in the wound was when Assistant GM Ruben Amaro left Manuel's office and said to Kendrick "We'll be keeping an eye on you. Let us know if you need anything."
Now there was some positive news for Kendrick. His $475,000 salary from the Phillies would be bumped up to $1.5 million for the Giants but that was the only positive in the charade. Kendrick was shell shocked and the first person he told was the master of the entire affair, Brett Myers. Myers played the part of the shocked teammate but still managed to remind the camera that Kendrick had bought the entire ordeal as real.
Alongside Kendrick Amaro addressed the media explaining that the player the Phillies received for the second year pitcher was none other than Kobayashi Iwamura who was obviously a mixture of Kobayashi the hot dog eater, and Akinori Iwamura the then Rays third base men.
When asked for a statement all Kendrick could muster was "Do they have good food in Japan?" I mean what else can you say in that situation right? But before it could get any worse the Phillies Ashton Kutcher alerted Kendrick he had in fact gotten "Punked!" Everyone had a good laugh and Kendrick was just relieved he would be staying state side for the 2008 season.
While the prank was hilarious what wasn’t funny was the aftermath to the puppet and the puppeteer. In 2008 Brett Myers could successfully make the transition back to starter. He admitted that he was going out trying to strike everyone out, and was failing miserably. After actually being sent down to the minors to get his mind straight he came back up and pitched well. He finished the season with a 4.55 ERA and a legendary AB with then Brewer CC Sabathia. Kendrick was unable to regain his 2007 form. While he did manage to win 11 games in 2008 his ERA ballooned to 5.51 and he was eventually taken out of the starting rotation, and placed in the bullpen.
2009 wasn’t much better for the prankster and the test subject. Myers had another below average year for the Phillies which resulted in one hip surgery, and a 4.84 ERA. For Kendrick he went from a Giant in 2008 to an Iron Pig in 2009. After entering training camp as the incumbent for the Phillies vacant fifth starter spot he was the first one to go, losing out to eventual winner Chan Ho Park, and also JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco. He was eventually brought back up to the big club but it was as a reliever, and not a starter.
Brett Myers is gone, signing a deal with the Houston Astro's where he is already injured. In 2008 he was a Giant, in 2009 an Iron Pig, and in 2010 Kyle Kendrick has become a shadow. Since the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay Kendrick has followed the former AL CY Young award winner everywhere, picking his brain for every bit of information he can get. If you’re going to take a mentor it's always a good idea to pick the best pitcher in baseball.
Like Halladay, Kendrick relies on his sinker to get outs. Also like Halladay Kendrick experienced early success, but was sent down to the minors. In this last similarity is where Kendrick finds the most hope. You can’t blame him. Knowing that your following a similar road that Roy Halladay followed is going boost any young pitchers spirits.
The 25 year old pitcher is going get his shot to prove that he isn’t just a one hit wonder. With the recent injury to Joe Blanton Kendrick is thrust into the starting rotation just days after learning that Jamie Moyer would be the Phillies fifth starter. No one can argue that Kendrick didn’t earn a spot this spring as he posted a staggering 1.66 ERA.
2008 started for Kyle Kendrick like a movie where its hilarious because everything that happens to the main character isn’t happening to you. But in 2010 Kendrick will look to duplicate another movie, the Karate Kid, where he (Daniel Son) will look to prove that he has gained the knowledge needed to be successful in this league from Roy Halladay (Mr. Miyagi)