By Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — Let’s face it: sports news is all about familiar storylines and how different players of varying levels of talent work together to win games.

One of the go-to storylines on any team is how older, more experienced players can help younger, talented players develop into the superstars that they become. Just look at the New York Jets quarterback position.

Here’s the formula: as long as a player isn’t a renowned clubhouse cancer like Barry Bonds or Terrell Owens, then that person has a chance to attain the wise-veteran-influence label once he passes the prime of his career.

That’s the case with Washington Nationals’ utility player Howie Kendrick, who was talked up for his versatility and leadership qualities when he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28.

“He has a good attitude and I see him helping the younger players, as well as the older players,” Dusty Baker said of Kendrick on August 10. “He has the respect of the players already and the guys on this team because he came here with a good reputation.”

While true, Kendrick has always had a good reputation, being the wise old sage on the team is a new one. At the ripe old age of 33, he could still start full-time on some teams, but is a luxury, utility/bench player for the star-studded Nats.

Either way, Kendrick seems happy to share and be wanted, as he talked with Johnny Holliday on MASN about suddenly becoming sagelike.

“This year, being with the Phillies, I was never in that role before. Being a veteran guy around, there were three or four of us around that had quite a bit of time–10 years or more–and guys kept coming to me, asking me questions,” he explained.

“I used to be that guy, asking guys like Torri Hunter and Garrett Anderson, asking those guys those questions. I never thought I’d be that guy.

“So this year, it was kind of cool to take on a different role in the clubhouse. You learn about yourself and other people. Just as much as you’ve learned in the game, you can learn from other people, especially the younger players. They can teach you some things here and there too.

“I think that’s the fun part about the game: you always have the opportunity to learn more and get better. You can also teach other guys.”

So even as Kendrick transitions out of being an everyday player, more people respect his baseball wisdom.


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