PHOENIX - Howie Kendrick was not in the Phillies' starting lineup for a fifth straight day on Monday because of a hamstring problem that, as the player said, "hasn't gotten any better, but it hasn't gotten any worse either."
Kendrick can pinch-hit - he, in fact, had hits in the role on Friday and Sunday - but playing defense is another matter.
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"I kind of stinks because I can function, I can still hit, but as far as getting up to full speed and exploding the way I'd like to, it's still restricting me," he said.
Kendrick's ability to hit - not to mention his .361 batting average in 122 at-bats - makes him a prime candidate to serve as the designated hitter when the Phillies open a two-game interleague series Tuesday night in Seattle. But as far as playing second base when the Phillies return to National League action Friday night in New York …
That's the issue.
"The trouble with defense you're exploding with every play, especially up the middle," Kendrick said. "I just don't feel as comfortable exploding off it every time. As far as hitting and pinch-hitting goes you can govern that a little more when you run. You can control the rate of speed, but as far as defense you have to react to the ball."
Kendrick could end up on the disabled list if he's not ready to play defense by Friday night.
"That's something we talked about, but I don't know what's going to happen yet," he said. "We'll see."
Kendrick missed six weeks earlier this season with an abdominal injury.
In other health matters, pitcher Jerad Eickhoff will remain on the disabled list and Mark Leiter Jr. will make a second start on Wednesday in Seattle. Leiter filled in for Eickhoff on Friday night and pitched six shutout innings in his first big-league start.
Eickhoff believes he has completely recovered from an upper-back strain.
"I think they just want to err on the side of caution," he said. "I feel like I could throw Wednesday, but in all honestly, maybe that would be too quick. We'd rather be safe than sorry and finish the season strong and not risk a setback. So if we can knock this thing out with three or four more days, that's the way to go."
Eickhoff has felt good in bullpen workouts but has not reached game intensity. It's possible he could make a minor-league rehab start later this week before returning to the rotation next week.