ANAHEIM, Calif. — It didnt take long for former Royals catcher Jason Kendall to abort his attempted comeback at Class AA Northwest Arkansas. A slight twinge in his surgically repaired right shoulder made for an easy decision.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
I didnt blow it out, he said, but I knew the next time, my shoulder would be done. I wouldnt be able to pick up my kids or have a normal life.
Kendall, 38, announced his retirement Tuesday prior to the Naturals game against Tulsa. He played just two games, getting one hit in three at-bats, after agreeing last Thursday to a minor-league contract.
I owed it to myself to try it, he said. I didnt want to get 10 years down the road and wonder what would have happened. I did things the way I wanted my whole career, and I had to try this.
The comeback came nearly two years after a major shoulder injury forced Kendall to the disabled list. Multiple surgeries followed, which delayed his efforts to resume his career.
I worked my butt off to get to this point, he said, and I appreciate the Royals for letting me do this.
Kendall was a three-time All-Star in a 15-year career with the Pirates, As, Cubs, Brewers and Royals. He batted .288 with a .366 on-base percentage in 2,085 career games. His 2,025 career games as a catcher rank fifth in history.
Someone asked me what the highlight of my career was, Kendall said. Every day. I had the greatest gig I know. I had fun, and I dont have a single regret.
The Royals signed Kendall, a free agent, after the 2009 season to a two-year deal for $6 million in hopes that his experience and leadership could bolster a young club and, in particular, a young pitching staff.
Jason Kendall was old school, Royals designated hitter Billy Butler wrote on Twitter, and played the game right (and) all while being a great dad. It was an honor to be your teammate. Great career.
Kendall batted .256 with a .318 on-base percentage in 118 games in 2010 for the Royals before the injury forced him to the disabled list. A setback after the initial surgery forced him to spend all of last season on the disabled list.
The Royals employed Kendall earlier this year as a part-time coach and instructor while he continued his rehab efforts. Kendall said he expected to discuss a continuing relationship later Tuesday with general manager Dayton Moore.
I want to stay in the game, Kendall said, and Id like to stay with this club. Dayton is coming down here tonight (to Northwest Arkansas) to watch (left-hander Mike) Montgomery. Im sure well talk.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Royals_Report.