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Kendrick optimistic heading into important season

Kendrick optimistic heading into important season

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- This is a big season for Kyle Kendrick.

He is hoping to bounce back from a forgettable finish in 2013, in which he went 3-9 with a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts. If he does, he could turn it into a lucrative multiyear contract as he has the opportunity to become a free agent following the season.

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"I take every year as a big year, but this is a big year for our team, and me personally," Kendrick said Friday after allowing three runs in two innings in a 10-6 victory over the Tigers at Bright House Field. "The main thing is health, that's a big key. If I can stay healthy, make my starts and pitch my innings while giving us a chance to win -- I know I say it every time and it's a cliche, but it's the truth. If you stay on the field, that's big. That can help yourself. Those are what my goals are this year. I plan on doing that."

Kendrick avoided salary arbitration this winter when he signed a one-year, $7.675 million contract. He is 64-55 with a 4.38 ERA in 194 appearances (153 starts) in his seven-year career. That should line up the right-hander for a nice deal.

Consider Scott Feldman (51-56, 4.62 ERA in 234 appearances, 131 starts), who signed a three-year, $30 million contract this offseason with the Astros; Phil Hughes (56-50, 4.54 ERA in 182 appearances, 132 starts), who signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Twins; and Jason Vargas (51-58, 4.30 ERA in 174 appearances, 154 starts), who received a four-year, $32 million deal from the Royals.

"Obviously, I want to stay here," Kendrick said. "I grew up in this organization. I'm used to it here. I live here. Spring Training is here. The organization knows me and I know the organization. I would like to stay here, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes. I would love to stay here. As long as they want me to. I want to go somewhere that wants me."

Of course, Kendrick has to produce and stay healthy. He finished last season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, but said he has had no issues since.

"I just had some tightness, and [Dr. David Altchek] suggested I not throw," he said. "That route was probably the best decision for my career. We went that way. He actually said, for my age, my shoulder looked pretty good. I feel great. I plan on having a good, strong season."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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