ANAHEIM -- Howie Kendrick was on his way to a career year when a tough-luck outfield collision with Collin Cowgill sprained his left knee and robbed him of nearly six weeks. He returned to the starting lineup on Sept. 13, mindful of the fact that his timing would be off because he missed the last 35 games and it was too late in the season to go on a rehab assignment.
But he wanted to play, even though his knee was still sore. And since returning, the 30-year-old second baseman has picked up right where he left off.
Kendrick, who rested in the Wednesday afternoon home finale, homered in his second straight day during Tuesday's 3-0 win over the A's and is batting .317/.349/.561 in 10 games since returning from a lengthy, sometimes-frustrating stint on the disabled list, his slash line now at .302/.341/.448 for the season.
"I didn't really have any expectations coming back," Kendrick said. "I just knew I was going to get in and start playing and try to see as many pitches as I could. Anything that was going to happen was going to be a plus. I was just glad to be back on the field."
Kendrick was able to hit the entire time he was out, but seeing pitches in batting practice and facing an actual Major League pitcher are two completely different things. One thing that helped the right-handed-hitting Kendrick get back into it so quickly was his approach, which has him see the ball deep and consistently drive it to the middle or right side of the field.
Twelve of his 13 home runs this year, including his first-inning solo shot off A.J. Griffin on Tuesday, have been hit up the middle. The other went over the right-field wall.
"He can take that inside pitch and really hit it hard to right field," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "and I think that gives him an opportunity, when he's had a layoff, not to have to find as much timing as some guys with maybe a little different approach and a bigger swing."
"One of the biggest things is having the experience, too," Kendrick said. "Playing a lot of games -- you understand, coming back, not trying to do way too much. I understand that I missed a lot of time, so I couldn't really expect myself to come back and go, 'Oh, I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that.' I just have to take what's given and learn and continue to progress like I have."
Kendrick said his knee is not 100 percent and won't be probably until next year, which doesn't surprise him. There's still some next-day soreness, but he doesn't anticipate needing to undergo any offseason procedure and doesn't feel limited on the field.
"It's just going to take time to heal," Kendrick said. "… I understood when I came back that I wasn't going to sit out and miss time playing when I knew it wasn't going to be 100 percent anyway."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.