"I always thought he was a solid defender," said Brandon Wood, who played alongside Kendrick in the heart of the infield for three years in the Angels' farm system. "Seeing him now, he's playing really good defense. His swing came natural. He's always trying to play better defense. He's put a lot of time and effort into that part of the game, and it's paying off. His swing's always going to be there."
Kendrick and Wood collaborated on a sensational play at a pivotal moment in Tuesday night's 6-3 win over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium. The Dodgers were threatening in the eighth inning against Fernando Rodney with two on and none out when Matt Kemp hit a sharp ground ball seemingly ticketed for center field and a run. Wood got there with a dive and made a glove flip from the ground to Kendrick, who rose up with Casey Blake bearing down on him and completed a critical double play.
"To be honest, the better part of the play was Howie's turning it," Wood said. "Blake was right on him, but he jumped and got a lot on it. That was a great play he made."
Blake hit Kendrick low, but that's where he's most powerful.
"He's got tree trunks for legs," Wood said, grinning.
Kevin Frandsen, who was primarily a second baseman with the Giants but has played all four infield spots, has been impressed with Kendrick.
"Howie staying in on guys and making the turn has been unbelievable," Frandsen said. "He's done it time and time again."