By Mary Cunningham

The Phillies have finally ended their long and sometimes gut-wrenching experiment with Darin Ruf.

They traded Ruf and Darnell Sweeney to the Dodgers for 33-year-old Howie Kendrick, who will likely be the team’s everyday left fielder.

“There may not be a more professional hitter than Howie Kendrick,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in a telephone interview with “He’s the definition of a professional hitter. He’s been steady his entire career. He’s one of the hardest-working guys in the league, and he can hit anywhere in the lineup and be productive. Pete and I have spoken over the past several months. This is the type of player that we really wanted to add to our lineup. I think Howie is going to have a legitimate impact on our young group.”

Kendrick hit .255 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a .691 OPS last season. He posted a combined .758 OPS the previous five seasons with the Angels and Dodgers, which was 14 percent above league average. The Phillies believe Kendrick can return to prior form with regular playing time, something he lacked this season with the Dodgers.

“We believe Howie Kendrick is definitely a candidate to have a bounceback year,” Klentak said. “A lot of the underlying more advanced statistics would suggest he got a bit unlucky last year.”

Kendrick had a .301 BABIP last season, compared to a .342 BABIP in 2015, .347 in ’14 and .340 in ’13.

Kendrick was attractive to the Phillies, not only because they believe he can provide a much needed veteran presence in the lineup and clubhouse, but because he can play multiple positions and because he is in the final year of a two-year, $20 million contract. He will make $10 million next season.

His ability to play multiple positions is important because the Phillies plan to place several players on the 40-man roster in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Some of those players might not reach the big leagues next year, which means the team will have less flexibility with its 25-man roster. Having an everyday player like Kendrick who can play multiple positions could come in handy.

“That’s something — just in terms of general roster management — that is going to be very important to us this year,” Klentak said. “The versatility that the [trade] brings to our team is a huge benefit.”



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