By Evan Brunell
Jason Kendall was once hoping to return to the Royals for Opening Day after suffering a season-ending tear to the rotator cuff last season. That obviously was not the case, but the veteran backstop is no longer trying to press his schedule.
"I have to continue to do this the right way if I'm going to continue to play -- not just play one week and end my career," Kendall told MLB.com. "Because I understand it was as major as major can get. Is it frustrating? Absolutely, but I also know what I have to do to play another four years."
Kendall believes he'll be ready in just over a month in either late June or early July, but isn't shooting for a specific date and rather is marking it by progress. He's already experiencing zero pain after still feeling the effects of the injury and surgery as recently as two weeks ago.
"Whenever I'm ready to go, whenever I can catch four days in a row and have a day off and catch the next day is when I'll go," he said.
If Kendall truly wants to play another four years, he'll be doing so as a 40-year-old. Kendall will turn 37 at the end of June, which means he would end his career at age 41 if he gets his wish to play another four years. It's possible Kendall could meet that goal but he certainly won't do so as starting catcher. He's already had a few years of being a complete non-entity on offense but his defense and leadership has remained up to par, two valuable traits teams look for in backups. Kendall's going to have to prove he can still throw out runners with that surgically-repaired arm, however.