No love lost between Cards, Kennedy
La Russa reiterates circumstances of release weren't personal
JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Kennedy, in Rays camp on a Minor League contract, made the three-hour bus ride from Port Charlotte to Jupiter and back on Monday -- all in the name of fighting for a roster spot, never mind a starting job with Tampa Bay. So forgive Kennedy if he sees things a little differently from the Cardinals regarding his release.
Manager Tony La Russa reiterated on Monday that the Cards let Kennedy go because they intended to hold an open competition for their second-base job, and they didn't believe Kennedy would be on board with that sort of plan. Kennedy doesn't buy it.
"I think we all know that's not true," Kennedy said before Monday's game, his first as a visitor at Roger Dean Stadium.
"We talked about it at the Winter Warm-Up, that I was prepared for that. I had no problem with that. That wasn't the case."
There was no tearful reunion between Kennedy and the team that twice employed him; in fact, there was little interaction at all between Kennedy and his ex-teammates. He addressed reporters as his new teammates stretched. He asserted that he has no quarrel with La Russa.
"I don't think my problem is with Tony any more than it ever has been," Kennedy said. "It's sort of how my releasing went down. And I don't know how much he had to do with that at that time."
La Russa, though, had quite a bit to do with Kennedy's release. Kennedy requested a trade late in the 2008 season, after his playing time had dwindled significantly. The club attempted to trade him, but as the offseason went on, it became clear that no deal would be worked out. The Cardinals gave Kennedy his release before Spring Training started.
"I'm going to say what I said all along: Nothing personal about him," La Russa said. "I have great respect for him, personally and professionally. This was not a situation that I thought, based on a couple years where he wasn't absolutely sure he was in the lineup that day and he wasn't comfortable with it, that was going to be the situation. So, we just corrected it."
All the while, the Cardinals moved forward with their plans for replacing Kennedy -- primarily, moving Skip Schumaker from the outfield to second base. Schumaker and Kennedy are friends and workout partners, making for something of an awkward situation. And it could have been even more so if they had been competing for the same spot at the same time.
"If he would have been here and he would have been put in that situation, he would have handled it," La Russa said. "But he wouldn't [have liked it]. And the reality of it is that we talked about it long before and I kind of planned how we were going to go forward without him. But the organization was going to try to trade him and save some money. I think good for him that we don't bring him into Spring Training, rosters would be set, and then you cut him loose."
Now, Kennedy is not only willing to compete for a job, he said he's ready to accept an assignment to Triple-A Durham, if that's what is required.
"I don't have a problem doing that," he said. "To continue to be playing at a high pace, and hopefully if I go there, it will be on an everyday basis. I haven't done that in a couple years."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.