Get To Know Jeff Kennard…

The following is a 2007 article that appeared in the Hunterdon County Democrat, written while new Patriots reliever Jeff Kennard was pitching with the Trenton Thunder

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Kennard Leading The Way
by Mike Ashmore
April 19, 2007

You can’t blame the Trenton Thunder faithful if they were a little skeptical of seeing relief pitcher Jeff Kennard on the roster this year.

The last time the 25-year-old pitched at Waterfront Park was Game Two of the Eastern League Division Series, where he faced five batters without getting an out in relief of Tyler Clippard, allowing the Portland Sea Dogs to break the game wide open.

His final line that day: 0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 2BB

Jeff Kennard isn’t that pitcher anymore. And really, he never was.

That playoff performance overshadowed a stellar regular season, posting a 3-6 record and 3.29 ERA. It was a year that got him placed on the Yankees 40-man roster in the off-season, something that hasn’t changed the right hander’s approach.

“I still want to go out there and do the same stuff, it just takes off that edge,” Kennard said. “You still have to go out and work to get to the big leagues, maybe work harder now.”

Kennard got a first-hand look at exactly what it takes to get there when he was invited to his first Spring Training with the Yankees this year. Although he made ESPN’s Sportscenter for hitting Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield in the rear end, everything else went pretty well for the Ohio native.

“That one just got away from me a little bit,” Kennard said with a smile. “I knew Gary from years past, and I was just trying to get it inside before he put it across the street into the car dealership. But other than that, it was a lot of fun.”

He got to test his mettle against a lot of familiar faces this Spring, but one stood out more than the others.

“I got to pitch against the Blue Jays, and Frank Thomas was my second hitter,” he said. “I grew up idolizing him. It was an eye opener, seeing all those hitters and seeing guys you’ve idolized and you watched growing up.”

Pitching for the Yankees will also give you quite a few legendary names on your side, and Kennard was quick to take advantage of that as well.

“I talked to (Mariano) Rivera a little bit. Just pick their brains,” Kennard said.

“I talked a lot to Scott Proctor, I talked to (Kyle) Farnsworth a lot, mainly bullpen guys. Another guy was Mike Myers, he’s a guy who’s been in the league for a while, and he knows every hitter. Everything he said was a real eye opener about the mental aspects of the game. I really learned a lot while I was over there.”

Kennard and Chase Wright are the only two players on the Thunder who the Yankees have protected on their 40-man roster, and both could play a big role in the Yankees 2007 plans.

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One Response to “Get To Know Jeff Kennard…”

  1. Douglas Taylor Says:

    Kennard was a two sport star in high school. He was looking to play Div. I football at the Ohio State Buckeyes or with his high school QB at Miami of Ohio. He was the leading receiver, DB, and punter on the football team that also had A J Hawk and kicker Mike Nugent. When the Yankees drafted him, he choose baseball over football. Every team he has played on in the minors has had a winning record.

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