ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) — Washington Nationals' playoff hero Howie Kendrick is happy to be back.
"It’s awesome, especially coming off a World Series," Kendrick told reporters on the first day of Nationals full squad workouts.
Despite his postseason heroics and his outstanding 2019 season, Kendrick's return to Washington wasn't a sure thing. The 14-year MLB veteran signed a one-year contract in the off season, but was an unrestricted free agent and could have opted to sign with a team that could have promised more playing time.
"I know what I have here, I knew the people here and I knew my role here," Kendrick said. "As a veteran guy to be able to be around all these guys in this locker room, to try and impact them. I think that was a big part of it too."
The Nationals return a team that looks a lot like the squad that won the 2019 World Series. The biggest departure, third baseman Anthony Rendon - a departure Kendrick seems confident Washington can overcome.
"We lost Rendon," continued Kendrick, "but we’ve got a lot of other guys willing to step up too, so it’s gonna be a fun year again. Last year we started 19 and 31, but as you can see that didn’t really hurt us too much, but obviously we want to get off to a better start."
Repeating the process is one thing, but repeating the end result is another. The New York Yankees were the last World Series champ to repeat, and they actually won three straight (1998-2000), but that fact isn't a deterrent for Kendrick.
"I think a lot of guys here are hungry," said Kendrick. "They’re ready to play and that’s the way it goes, you just get out there, do your best and see what happens."
Of course Kendrick couldn't escape his first media session of the spring without addressing the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
"It doesn’t put baseball in a good light," Kendrick told reporters. "The Commissioner hasn’t really done a good job of trying to defuse the situation. Obviously, they chose to do it, they should have to live with those consequences."