Trade bait? Something's fishy
Did Kyle Kendrick get sent packing to Japan? Nah, he just got punked.
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies traded Kyle Kendrick yesterday.
To the Yomiuri Giants. In Japan. For Kobayashi Iwamura.
"Do they have good food in Japan?" a stunned Kendrick asked reporters, who circled his locker inside the clubhouse at Bright House Networks Field. "I don't know what to think right now."
Indeed. The Phillies executed an elaborate prank on Kendrick, one so believable that it had their 23-year-old starting pitcher convinced that he needed to be on a 7:05 a.m. Delta Airlines flight today, connecting in Atlanta for the 14-hour, 30-minute trip to Tokyo. The accomplices in the ruse included assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.; manager Charlie Manuel; Frank Coppenbarger, director of team travel and clubhouse service; Kendrick's agent, Joe Urbon; pitcher Brett Myers; and pretty much everybody else in the clubhouse.
"They got me," Kendrick said later. "I thought it was a done deal. I thought it really happened. Gosh, good thing it didn't."
Think these Phillies are a loose bunch?
The idea developed early last week, but those involved were borrowing an old idea. Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen once pulled the same prank on former pitcher Wayne Gomes.
Amaro created an official-looking document on Phillies letterhead, spelling out the trade details, which Kendrick had to sign in triplicate. Coppenbarger also created a detailed itinerary for Kendrick's trip overseas.
After yesterday's workout, Kendrick went into the weight room, as usual, when Amaro pulled him out. He and Kendrick walked through the clubhouse together.
(Keep in mind, any time the assistant GM or GM pulls a player out of the weight room or clubhouse and walks him into the manager's office, something almost always is up.)
"Contract signed," J.D. Durbin said from across the room.
"What'd you do, Kendrick?" Myers asked.
Comcast, which had been in on the scheme from the start, had Manuel and Myers miked for the prank.
Kendrick took a seat in Manuel's office. The manager and Amaro explained that he had just been traded to Japan. (Major leaguers can't be traded to Japan, by the way.) Kendrick didn't seem to notice or care that a TV camera was filming the event because he had been told earlier that Comcast was following Manuel around for the day.
Then Coppenbarger handed Kendrick his flight schedule.
He explained to Kendrick that he tried to get him a layover for a night in Seattle (Kendrick is from Washington), but couldn't because his Japanese team needed him to arrive immediately.
Stunned, Kendrick left Manuel's office and staggered to his locker. He grabbed his cell phone and walked outside to call his agent.
"It happens," Urbon told Kendrick. "It's a chance for you to make some more money. This is going to be a big deal. This really never happens. The media over there is going to be big."
"All right," Kendrick said.
He hung up.
Kendrick returned to his locker, where Amaro brought over reporters, who didn't expect to be part of the gag. Amaro announced the trade.
"It was a deal we felt was important for us to make," he told reporters. "The fact of the matter is we're trying to get to the next level."
Then the questions started.
Did Manuel, who played in Japan, give you some tips?
"No, not at all," Kendrick said. "Um, I don't know what to think right now."
Have you had all your shots? Seriously, you need shots to go over there.
"Uh, no," Kendrick said. "I haven't. Um, I don't know. This is going to be a new little chapter I guess, huh?"
Are you upset?
Is your passport in order?
Have you talked to your agent?
Are you shocked?
"You know what I say?" Myers said, stepping in next to Kendrick. "You just got punked!"
The clubhouse erupted in laughter. Everybody could see the relief wash over Kendrick.
"I've never been so happy. Seriously," he said. "I was not getting on that flight in the morning. They got me."
And Kobayashi Iwamura? He's relieved, too.
If he only existed.
See video of yesterday's training camp prank at http://go.philly.com/phillies.