Despite his dominant start against the Tigers Saturday, a move to the bullpen was almost inevitable for Kenshin Kawakami and he knew it.
The Braves announced Monday night Kawakami was moving to a relief role, rather than Kris Medlen, with Jair Jurrjens returning to the rotation from the disabled list Wednesday night.
“Looking at my stats, I’m not surprised,” said Kawakami, through his interpreter.
He needed seven one-run innings vs. the Tigers to win his first game of the year. He’s 1-9 with a 4.48 ERA.
“To me everything as a whole was just bad,” he said.
Kawakami wasn’t surprised and he didn’t want to use the word “disappointed” either.
“It wouldn’t be right saying I’d be disappointed because in the bullpen there’s also a job too, a very important job,” Kawakami said. “As a member of this team, I just need to do my best to contribute as much in a different role.”
Kawakami is 8-19 with a 4.16 ERA in 40 games in the last two years as a starter. He went 0-2 with a 2.63 and one save in seven games as a reliever late last season after moving to the bullpen when Tim Hudson returned from elbow surgery.
This time it was Kris Medlen who “beat” Kawakami out. Medlen has gone 4-0 with a 3.40 ERA in nine starts in Jurrjens’ absence.
“Medlen has pitched well all season,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “There was no way you could take him out of the rotation.”
Medlen said he hasn’t approached his job as a battle for a rotation spot.
“It seemed like people were making it a competition, when I was just going in and filling in for JJ, that’s how I thought about it,” Medlen said. “I didn’t want to go and take someone’s job or anything. KK went out and battled his (butt) off every time he goes out. It’s tough to say he pitched bad but you look at his record. It’s a business and he wasn’t winning games I guess.”