06/24/08 7:09 PM ET
Kennedy makes maiden start at first
La Russa designates infielder starting first baseman vs. Tigers
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
"Didn't ask him," La Russa said, "because I don't want to know the answer. He plays the infield. That's the way I look at it. ... He's an infielder. He's used to catching ground balls. I think he'll be all right."
As it turns out, Kennedy had never before seen time at first base. He's played big league games at second base, shortstop, right field, center field and designated hitter, but never first. But with Albert Pujols on the disabled list and a short bench, the manager called on Kennedy.
From the player's perspective, it was just good to be in the lineup somewhere. After sitting numerous games earlier this month, Kennedy has gotten hot at the plate, helping to force his way into the starting nine even if by unconventional means. Kennedy is 14-for-38 (.368) with three extra-base hits since June 5.
"I'm up for it," he said. "I've got Albert here to teach me a few things."
Kennedy joins Chris Duncan, Troy Glaus and Yadier Molina as players to start at first base in Pujols' stead this year. He said he's most concerned about deciding how far to range to his right on ground balls, but Pujols said the main worry should be avoiding collisions on throws from across the infield.
"One thing that he's probably going to have to be careful is when he goes to catch the throws," Pujols said.
"For a guy that doesn't have experience, that's the play that I encourage him to be careful."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.