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Kendrick Dropped To Fourth-Starter Role

Just a week after naming Kyle Kendrick his No. 3 starter, Charlie Manuel went the other way and named Jamie Moyer his No. 3 starter. Moyer, the lefty who hasn’t given up squat this spring, will start April 3 against the Nationals.

Manuel’s reason for pulling Kendrick was to avoid overexposure to the Braves, who tagged him for seven runs in his last spring start. Kendrick would’ve faced the Braves Friday (now it’s Francisco Rosario), but instead will pitch in a Minor League game. Manuel:

“Kyle doesn’t have to prove anything to me. He came up and went 10-4, and the way he pitched, it will take more than a bad spring for him to lose his job. Poise was his big thing last year, and his confidence, and he shouldn’t let anything get him down. I’m the manager, and I like what he did for us. He’s our fourth starter.”

And this was Manuel on Sunday, after naming him the starter for the team’s third game in 2008:

“He did a heck of a job and deserves a chance to show he’s for real. He showed us that last year. I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t stay in our rotation. I want the kid to have the confidence he’s always had, so we’ll keep him right where he’s at.”

This is troubling news. I understand you want to play game-by-game with the chance to win each game — and Manuel does this — but a fear of overexposure to a division rival is a real bogus reason to take away a guy’s staff position. The truth is Kendrick has struggled mightily this spring, and right now, the blame is on mechanics with a new pitch, a changeup.

Something tells me there’s another issue at play here. Maybe I’m wrong. And I really hope I am — the last thing Kendrick needs is naysayers and doubters as he walks into his second, very stressful season.

But here’s the key: If Manuel isn’t worried about Kendrick and thinks he shouldn’t let anything deter him, why make this move in the first place? Why put the Braves in his head? Any toying around is worse than no toying around at this juncture.

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