Jason Kendall: Keep Me on Brewers
Season opener: Tuesday, April 7 at San Francisco
PHOENIX (AP) -- Brewers catcher Jason Kendall plans to play until he's at least 40. He hopes all of those seasons are with Milwaukee.
"I'd love to spend six years here in Milwaukee. I'd love it," he said this spring.
Kendall is on a $5 million, one-year contract after he reached clauses in his deal last season that triggered the option. Kendall started 151 games for the Brewers and is quick to point out he's not too old to be effective.
"Everybody's like, 'Aww, you're old.' I'm not old. I'm 34. I take care of myself, I'm in just as good of shape as I was then," he said.
Then was when Kendall made three All-Star games and was the biggest star during his nine years with Pittsburgh Pirates. Kendall hit over .300 six times in Pittsburgh before being traded to Oakland.
He played two and a half seasons there before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs. He ended up in Milwaukee last offseason after his offensive numbers sharply declined.
Kendall only hit .246 for the Brewers, but his role from the beginning of spring training last season was guiding Milwaukee's pitching staff.
The Brewers starters were sharp, with a 3.86 ERA last year, the best since 1992, when the team won 92 games.
That and Kendall's durability made up for his low numbers at the plate, even as the number of games he played appeared to wear him down in September. He hit .202 in the final month as Milwaukee stumbled into the playoffs.
General manager Doug Melvin praises Kendall's experience. Kendall has made the postseason each of the past three years, including under new Brewers manager Ken Macha in 2006 when both were in Oakland.
But that Athletics team was swept out of the ALCS, and Macha was fired days later. There were questions about Kendall's relationship with Macha, who has already said he plans to use backup catcher Mike Rivera more.
Kendall flatly denies any problems. He said he likes and respects Macha and points out Macha was his Arizona Fall League manager back when Kendall was a prospect.
A few extra days off might be helpful for Kendall, anyway. He's caught 1,774 games in his career and at least 132 games in each of the last seven seasons.
Among active catchers, only Brad Ausmus and Ivan Rodriguez have caught more games, and they're both at least two years older.
"I'd love to play as long as I can," Kendall said. "It's not like I'm walking around, hobbling around."
Kendall says he enjoyed his years in Pittsburgh, which included a $60 million extension, but appreciates being in Milwaukee entering his 14th season in the majors.
"This is one of the best cities I've played in, if not the best city," Kendall said. "I take that back. It is the best city I've played in. The atmosphere, the fan interaction on a daily basis, the guys in the clubhouse. Not very often do you get 25 guys that actually get along and play the game the right way."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)