Every year baseball players from all over the country descend upon Bradenton, Florida to train at the IMG Academy baseball program/Athletic & Personal Development program prior to reporting for Spring Training. The athletes hail from MLB clubs and their affiliates from around the country with aspirations of fine-tuning their game in an attempt to get a jump-start on the upcoming season.
Playing for a team with what's likely the best pitching staff in the majors, Kyle Kendrick has to stay on his game year-round. To enter Spring Training rust-free, Kendrick has spent the past couple winters training at IMG Academy before reporting to Philadelphia's Spring Training site in Clearwater. The 6-3, 213-pound right-hander recently spent a couple minutes talking about appearing in People magazine, his toughest outs, pranks and his dream gig.
Kyle Kendrick on...
...choosing baseball over football (he was a high school QB recruited by Washington State): My first love was always baseball. My dad played, and I was always around the game. I knew baseball was a little better for keeping me healthy and providing a long career, and I plan on pitching for a long time. I don't miss taking the hits at all. I like watching and throwing a football in the offseason, but that's about it.
...taking Brett Meyer's place as the team prankster: Now that Brett's gone, Shane Victorino. He likes to have a good time and keep it lively. Ryan Madsen's pretty funny as well.Shane loves the shaving cream and towel in the face. That's about all that I can talk about that is PG-rated.
...who gets noticed more in public, his wife Stephenie LaGrossa of Survivor or himself: She'd say it's her, but in Philly it's pretty even. In my hometown of Mt. Vernon, Washington, though, it's probably her. Survivor's big and she was pretty good at it. She likes to get on me about it.Our wedding photos were in People and everything. It's cool for her, but I don't really read it.
...his warm-up music: âWherever I may roamâ by Metallica. I'm actually a country guy, but you can't really get pumped up with country. If I wasn't playing baseball, I'd love to be able to be a country music singer. George Strait is my favorite. I've seen him live in concert twice.
...what makes Halladay, Lee and Oswalt so good: Their consistency is amazing. We're not robots, so it's hard to be on your game every day. It helps to have the stuff they have, but Roy (Halladay), for example, goes out there and pitches 7 or 8 innings, allowing only 1 or 2 runs almost every game. Cliff is the same way when he was here before he got traded. I'm not at that level yet, so I just try to learn from them and enjoy it. It's great to just sit back and watch them until it's my 5th day.
...his favorite MLB cities to visit: I like Chicago and Wrigley Field for the atmosphere and fans. There's nothing like playing in Wrigley. I also like playing in St. Louis. Those two are my favorite, but there isn't a bad park in the majors.
...the toughest guys to get out: Chipper Jones before he got injured was a pretty tough out. As a Hall of Famer, in my mind, he was tough. Another guy, who works out with me here at IMG, Joey Votto. We get on each other a little bit. I tell him to watch his ribs next year. Last year in Philadelphia, he hit a solo home run off me. We got the win, though.
...preparing for 162 games: It can get long and be a grind. Your arm gets tired. Your body gets sore. But that's why I'm here right now at IMG to prepare myself, make all my starts, pitch 200-plus innings and help our team get to the playoffs. Last year,after coming here, was the best spring I've ever had. They are tough workouts, but you feel great when you get to Spring Training.