Despite his tendency to bounce throws to second base all season and his inability to hit the ball past 300 feet, I have to give Jason Kendall credit – he’s been playing with an extensive tear in his rotator cuff. Since July. For six weeks. Kendall will have surgery Friday and the early timeframe for recovery is 8-10 months. The Royals are on the hook for $3.75 million for Kendall’s services in 2011, so an already disastrous signing gets even worse.
This means Brayan Pena and Luke May will take over catching duties for the rest of 2010. It’s likely the two will compete in spring training next year unless the Royals go another direction. Pena is available for arbitration for the first time this winter, so he may get to stick around.
The Royals also have catcher Manuel Pina on the 40 man roster who had a .707 OPS in 2010, playing mostly at Double A Northwest Arkansas and briefly in Triple A Omaha. I would imagine he’s a long shot to see time this season, but would be available if the Royals felt they needed a third catcher to finish out the season.
Kendall’s been playing through pain for a while now, so there’s something to be said about that dedication to the game. Still, he started a higher percentage of his team’s games than any other catcher in the league and at the age of 36, it’s not a surprise that he broke down. There’s no question he’s an old-school tough player. A gamer, as they might say. But the Royals are a better team without him. (Insert a joke about eliminating a huge hole in the lineup here)
If there are any attractive catching options available this winter, the Royals may go after them and cut their losses on Kendall, who may not be back until June 2011, and even then, won’t be any more effective as a hitter or behind the plate.