SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers infielder Adam Kennedy and Rays manager Joe Maddon struck up a friendship during the six-year stretch (2000-2005) when Maddon served as manager Mike Scioscia's bench coach with the Angels and Kennedy was the club's second baseman.
Kennedy and Maddon remained close after Maddon became the Rays' manager in 2006. Seven years after they celebrated the 2002 World Series championship together in Anaheim, Maddon became Kennedy's benefactor, perhaps saving his career.
"He did the best thing anyone in baseball has ever done for me," Kennedy said. "Joe Maddon is awesome."
It was two days before 2009 Spring Training camp was to open when Kennedy got word from the Cardinals that he'd been released. At 33, Kennedy was unsure what the future held. Teams already had formed their rosters. At this point, Maddon reached out to the man who'd hit three home runs in the deciding Game 5 of the 2002 American League Championship Series against the Twins.
"Joe brought me to camp in Port Charlotte with the Rays and gave me more at-bats than I'd ever had in Spring Training," Kennedy said. "They had their 25-man set, so I started the season with Durham. The Rays could have kept me there as insurance, but they didn't stand in my way when I had a chance to get back in the Majors."
After 23 games at Triple-A Durham, Kennedy was sent to the Athletics for a player to be named (Joe Dillon). Kennedy hit .289 for the A's with 11 homers and 63 RBIs in 129 games that season. He has been a role player for the Nationals, Mariners and now the Dodgers the past three seasons.
"I'll always remember what Joe did for me," Kennedy said. "Who knows what might have happened if he hadn't invited me to camp and given me the chance to show I could still play. He had his own [infielders], but he gave me all those at-bats."