KANSAS CITY -- Although catcher Jason Kendall is still on the disabled list, he's keeping active in the Royals' dugout. Manager Ned Yost has Kendall in charge of keeping the opposing team's running game in check.
"It's been one of the funnest things I've ever done," Kendall said.
What that means is that Kendall decides when a pitcher should throw over to first base, or use the slide-step for a quicker delivery home, or to throw a pitchout. Actually, Kendall did that when he was catching for Yost at Milwaukee in 2008 and then continued last year in Kansas City. This year Matt Treanor, another veteran catcher, is also deciding when to use those tactics instead of looking over the bench for those signs from Yost.
"He's probably the only manager that I've seen that lets his catchers do that," Kendall said.
"We have the feel back there for what's going. Brayan [Pena] still looks over there to see what's going."
Pena was catching on Friday night in the Twins' sixth inning when Louis Coleman relieved Royals starter Bruce Chen with runners at first and third with one out.
Kendall, in the dugout, called for Coleman to throw over to first base, then to throw a pitchout. Sure enough, the Twins tried a squeeze play, which was foiled by the pitchout. Danny Valencia was caught off third base by Pena and Coleman ended the inning with a strikeout, keeping the Twins' lead at 3-2.
"A hunch," Kendall said. "The situation in the game kind of dictated it."
That proved crucial in a game the Royals won in the ninth, 4-3.
Kendall hasn't been traveling, so he just calls those plays for home games. As he points out, it's one less thing that Yost or his coaches have to worry about.
"It's the game within a game that makes it enjoyable," Kendall said.