Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Benched Kendall disappointed

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PHOENIX — Veteran catcher Jason Kendall didn’t know his status until the lineup card was posted before Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Kendall was on the bench, with rookie Geovany Soto getting the starting nod.

‘‘I’m not hurt, but everybody wants to play,’’ Kendall said, sitting in the dugout before the game. ‘‘If you don’t want to play, you are probably in the wrong business. We’ll see what happens.

‘‘Geo has had a good month. He should be a good one for a long time. It’s all about winning.’’

It was a decision Piniella, who completely juggled the lineup he was leaning toward, delayed until the last minute. Why did he choose Soto over Kendall?

‘‘They run,’’ Piniella said of a speedy Diamondbacks team that might be more honest against the deadlier arm of Soto. ‘‘These teams that are in the postseason in the National League, they all run. So we’ll put Soto in there [Wednesday night] and see how he does. I’ve got confidence in him.’’

True to form, the D-backs showed off their speed right away. Leadoff hitter Chris Young singled in the first inning and on the next pitch stole second base, just beating Soto’s throw.

Though he didn’t come out and say it, Piniella seems to be leaning toward starting Soto throughout the series.

‘‘These last few decisions weren’t easy,’’ Piniella said.

To his credit, Kendall was taking a team approach, even if he was clearly disappointed.

‘‘The thing about this, every pitch, every at-bat ... this is what you play the game for,’’ said Kendall, who made a run last season to the AL Championship Series with the Oakland Athletics, hitting .258 (8-for-31) in seven games. ‘‘You play the game for situations like this. My mind is on winning.

‘‘Geo’s a good player, he’s going to be going for a long time. Yeah, everybody wants to play. But Geo wants to learn. That’s the neat part about it for me. He’s not somebody that’s just happy to be here but is really trying to take it to another level.’’

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on October 3, 2007 9:49 PM.

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