Kendall plans to be ready by Opening Day

Kendall plans to be ready by Opening Day

Kendall plans to be ready by Opening Day
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- No shocker here: Catcher Jason Kendall, a man of blue grit, says his goal is to be back playing when the Royals begin the season.

"I still plan on being back [for] Opening Day. Is that going to happen? I don't know," he said on Wednesday.

That's against the odds, but Kendall was in an especially optimistic mood after getting the go-ahead to begin a throwing program with his repaired right shoulder. That came in a Los Angeles visit this week with his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

"He said I was way ahead of the game and he was definitely excited," Kendall said.

Manager Ned Yost was pleased but cautious.

"I'm not going to put limits on him, but I'm not rushing him, by any stretch of the imagination," Yost said.

Yost wasn't aware of how bad Kendall's right shoulder had become last season and neither was the catcher until he happened to be tossing a ball with his 6-year-old son last August.

"I was playing catch with him but throwing left-handed," Kendall said. "He was like, 'Use your right hand.' I said, 'I can't, buddy.' He said, 'You do at night when you're playing.' I said, 'That's a good point.' So that's when I went down and asked if I could get an MRI."

The MRI showed extensive damage, and he underwent surgery on Sept. 3.

"I did a number on it," Kendall said. "It was complete mashed potatoes."

He did some light throwing on Wednesday but admitted to some "illegal" tossing earlier this winter in Kansas City.

"I started with snowballs," he said. "You get curious, you want to see what's happening. ... It's not like I was throwing to second base."

This is the second time in Kendall's career that he's had to come back from a serious injury. In 1999 with Pittsburgh, he suffered a gruesome right ankle injury that threatened his career. He missed half the season but returned to play 152 games the next year.

Kendall sees the similarities in the situations.

"Absolutely," he said. "Everybody's saying, 'No, no, no.' I like the challenge. I've done what I can do. Do I have a chance to blow out? Absolutely. Do I have a chance to continue my career? Absolutely. And that's what I plan on doing."

Beginning on Opening Day?

"In my mind, I'm going to be ready," he said. "But I'm not going to be dumb about it. It might not be then, but it'll be shortly thereafter."