Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Joey Wendle aimed his phone at the clubhouse celebration, but he wasn’t recording.
After dispatching the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 17, Wendle provided live video of the jubilant scene for friend, teammate and Spokane native Andrew Kittredge.
Kittredge, a hard-throwing right-hander who prepped at Ferris High, suffered a season-ending elbow injury in August and couldn’t be with the Rays as they punched the organization’s second ticket to the World Series.
In a normal year void of a pandemic, the rehabbing Kittredge still would have been in the dugout to likely experience a spray of champagne. Instead, he watched from the comfort of his bed alongside wife Tobey, who captured the exchange with her own phone.
“The MLB wanted us to ease up on that this year, with everything going on,” Kittredge said. “I think there was a lot less alcohol this year than a normal year.”
To help curb potential spread of the virus, Tampa Bay, which has been in a team bubble during the MLB playoffs, elected to keep all nonessential players and coaches near the team’s alternative site in Florida.
The Rays face the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night in Arlington, Texas.
“It’s hard to see how far they’ve gone and know I can’t be down there,” Kittredge said. “But at the same time, it’s been pretty fun to watch.”
Kittredge, 30, was at his best before tearing his elbow.
In parts of four seasons with Tampa Bay, Kittredge made 93 appearances, striking out 105 batters and walking 37. He had 11 starts in that span, posting a 4-3 record with a 4.93 ERA.
He had eight appearances in 2020, a season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.
After recording a save in an 8-7 road win against the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 10, he was called to start the next day, becoming just the seventh MLB pitcher since inception of the saves statistic (1969) to record a save the night before a start.
Two pitches into the Aug. 11 game, he felt discomfort and was pulled.
“(Kittredge) provides so much for us,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told Rays media after the injury. “His consistency … I think over time he’s become a big key and a high-leverage guy for us. We’re going to miss him the rest of the year. It’s a big loss.”
Kittredge, who played at the University of Washington and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners, still lives in Spokane but hasn’t been home since the season’s initial shutdown in March.
Rays coaches and teammates have sent well-wishes to Kittredge during the playoff run, and the players have been communicating in a group chat.
The 2008 Ferris graduate has been more animated at home in front of his television than he is on the mound, he said.
“I’m usually not a yeller, but when Mike Brosseau hit that home run to beat the Yankees in Game 5 (of the American League Division Series), I was loud and fist-pumping,” Kittredge said.
If the Rays take down the Dodgers, Kittredge will get a World Series ring.
“It’s hard to even comprehend,” he said. “Four or five years ago, I thought I might not ever make to the big leagues, and now I’m part of a team that can win a World Series.
“It would be nice to play, but I was fortunate enough to contribute to our team earlier in the year.”
If the Rays win the World Series title, Kittredge would be the second Spokane product to be part of a world championship in the Tampa area this year. Central Valley graduate and former Spokane Chiefs standout Tyler Johnson helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win an NHL title last month.
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