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07/09/08 8:48 PM ET
Kendall's savvy aided Sabathia's win
Catcher helps new acquisition adjust to new surroundings
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- We'll never know what Brewers catcher Jason Kendall said when he approached the mound on Tuesday night, trying to calm down an emotional CC Sabathia in the sixth inning of Sabathia's first Brewers start. Sabathia would only say that Kendall, "kept it light." Kendall was asked later if his words of inspiration were fit for print. He paused, then offered with a smile, "Probably not." Whatever Kendall said in that instance or at any other point on what was a wild Tuesday at Miller Park, it seemed to help. Sabathia was not razor sharp, but he did manage to hold Colorado to two earned runs over six innings, and he got away with a win in his Brewers debut. "I think he could see I was getting a little riled up and overthrowing," Sabathia said. "He came out, kept it light and said, 'Let's make some pitches, get back in the dugout.' Him being a veteran and knowing how to handle guys made all the difference." Add his name to the ever-growing list of Brewers pitchers who have praised Kendall, a veteran who signed a one-year free agent contract with the Brewers in December. Kendall is well on the way to vesting his option for a second season. Sabathia was with Cleveland since the first round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and played parts of eight Major League seasons for the Indians, and now suddenly is adjusting to new surroundings in Milwaukee. Kendall could relate; he was Pittsburgh's first-round pick in 1992 and played nine seasons for the Pirates before a 2004 trade to Oakland. "When you're with an organization for that long, it's different," Kendall said. "Believe me, no matter what anybody says, it's different. It doesn't matter how many years you have in, you get an atmosphere like [Tuesday], you're going to be nervous. I say that from experience." As for nuts-and-bolts preparation, Kendall kept it simple. "Just go out and let him do his thing," Kendall said. "We talked, but he just does what he does." Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux studied Sabathia's three previous starts, watching about 400 pitches. "He'll make a mistake on one with his execution, but comes right back on the next one," Maddux said. "He's a 'quick-fix' guy. I think he's got a good feel for what he's doing. And I like that, 100 pitches deep, a gut-busting time, he finds 97 [mph]. He always has something in the tank when he needs it." Sabathia will make his next start Sunday against the Reds in the finale of the first half. He was supposed to start against Cincinnati's Aaron Harang, but Harang was scratched on Wednesday because of a sore right forearm.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.