From Class A to the playoff race: Marlins to start rookie Kensing
MIAMI -- Logan Kensing has never seen Wrigley Field. He's never even been to Chicago. He'll find out Friday how he likes the Windy City from the pitcher's mound.
Pressed into duty by the Florida Marlins, the 22-year-old Texan will go directly from Class A to the playoff race when he makes his major league debut against the Cubs at Wrigley.
"The cathedral of baseball," Kensing said. "It'll be a storm of emotions. I'll try to keep them at bay."
If the setting doesn't overwhelm Kensing, the circumstances of this weekend's four-game series might. The Marlins, who clinched the NL championship series in Chicago last October, are now battling the Cubs and three other teams for the league's wild-card berth.
In other words, with Kensing scheduled to start the second game of Friday's doubleheader against Mark Prior, the stakes could hardly be higher.
The rookie's goal?
"Don't fall down and make yourself look stupid," he said.
With long, unruly blond hair and a smile he's worn since joining the Marlins on Tuesday, Kensing looks like a carefree California beach boy. But he grew up in Boerne, Texas (pop. 8,000), and pitched at Texas A&M.
Kensing was selected in the second round of the 2003 draft and went 6-7 with a 2.96 ERA this season for the Class-A Jupiter Hammerheads. He throws a change-up, slider and 92 mph sinker.
"All of the reports we've got are that he's pretty good," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "He's supposed to be mentally tough. We'll find out."
Kensing had already returned to Texas to begin his offseason when he was summoned to the majors.
"I thought somebody was pulling my leg," he said.
The unexpected opportunity came about because of Hurricane Frances. The storm washed out three Marlins games last weekend, and they're now scheduled to play three doubleheaders in 11 days beginning Friday.
That created the need for a sixth starter. The Marlins could have opted for more experienced Justin Wayne or Michael Tejera, but they're hoping Kensing can contain the Cubs for a few innings because they're unfamiliar with him.
"Sneak attack," pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said. "We'll just let him go have some fun."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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