Second baseman Adam Kennedy has played well in the last month in a variety of responsibilities. He has been a defensive stopper at second, a rally starter leading off the ballgame, the clutch hitter with a big run-scoring double and maybe, more importantly, a teacher and mentor to young shortstop Ian Desmond.
Kennedy said he told Desmond he is in a good position with this team in more ways than one, especially with a chance to bat second in the lineup on a consistent basis.
"It is a huge opportunity to take advantage of it to prove to them that he can handle (being in the #2 slot)," Kennedy said. "It is definitely a big thing in his career to hit at the top of the lineup."
Kennedy said his career started at the top of the lineup and then he got pushed back down. He told Desmond this is his chance and to seize it now.
"I wasn't quite ready to hit in the two hole and did early on (in my career) and then kind of the bottom of the order after that. Talking about my experiences, I felt it was important to tell him to take advantage of the opportunity."
"Instead of trying to fight your way back up, just stay there," Kennedy told Desmond. "It is a big difference in how his career can go."
Kennedy said you can see a lot better quality of pitch in the #2 then in the #8 slot. He says Desmond is learning very quickly what to do to get on base.
"It's a good spot to hit in, hitting in front of the 3 and 4 guys. If you do the right thing by taking advantage of it - but not be too greedy - there are times to bunt and work the count and know those situations. He has done a good job of recognizing those things."
Former major league baseball center fielder and current ESPN commentator Doug Glanville told me when he batted first he felt he had a responsibility to showcase the starting pitcher for his team behind him in the lineup.
But Kennedy says with technology and just plain baseball knowledge of your opponent, he isn't worried about having a 10-pitch at bat. He just wants to get on base.
"I think those days are over. I am not a big believer in that any more," Kennedy said.
"I think with all the video and how much we are familiar with each pitcher and how good they are, it is too hard to hit 0-2 or 1-2. What is better, getting on base on the first or second pitch, or hitting 0-2 and hitting a weak ground ball? I just don't see the benefit of sitting there and just taking pitches this day and age."
He has gotten the chance to lead off recently himself and has been on a nice roll. The second baseman talked about what's been behind his latest run.
Kennedy said he just wants to get out there: "I enjoy playing. I enjoy helping the team win. When you have a role like that, something inside of you really makes you want to keep it going for your team.
"Its been a little better lately. Hopefully, we can keep it going here."
And with Cristian Guzman traded, does the clearer picture at second base give Kennedy hope that he will be the everyday starter in 2011?
Kennedy hasn't thought about next year one bit, saying, "This year hasn't gone great so far so there is still time to revive it a little bit and finish strong."