Adam Kennedy's rough season and Jim Riggleman's regret
It's pretty easy for Adam Kennedy to summarize his first, and most likely only, season with the Nationals. "Not very fun," he said. "I know that."
Kennedy started barely half of the Nationals' games. Discounting 2007, when Kennedy missed more than a month on the disabled list, Kennedy set career-lows in batting average (.250), on-base percentage (.322) and slugging percentage (.329). He had never played on a team that won fewer than 75 games; the Nationals will win 70 at best.
"You're not really an everyday player," Kennedy said. "Your team's not winning. It's two bad ends of the spectrum."
Late this winter, Kennedy signed a one-year contract with a team option for a second season. Kennedy has not spoken with General Manager Mike Rizzo about his future and expressed uncertainty about 2011 - "I have no idea," Kennedy said.
But it would come as a huge surprise if Kennedy returns next season. The Nationals have Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa in place up the middle, and Manager Jim Riggleman said today he would feel comfortable next season with only Alberto Gonzalez as a utility infield backup.
"Alberto certainly could be the guy in the middle there," Riggleman said. "If we're carrying two extra middle infielders, and Espinosa can go over and play short if Desi needed a day off, that second middle infielder is just probably never going to play."
This year, Kennedy ran into that kind of playing-time crunch, one that Riggleman blames himself for. On May 23, Cristian Guzman was hitting .345, and Riggleman could not justify not playing Guzman. The victim was Kennedy, and when Guzman cooled off and Riggleman wanted to move back to a rotation in the middle infield, Kennedy had gathered rust.
"The one regret I have of the season is I kind of fell into the trap of how hot Guzman was early in the year," Riggleman said. "I sat Kennedy quite a bit there. When I back to Kennedy to get him more involved, Kennedy was rusty. It took him a little while to get it going again. That whole thing didn't work."
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