Arizona sends Kennedy to Padres for Thatcher

Struggling right-hander Ian Kennedy will get a chance for a
fresh start with the San Diego Padres, thanks to a general manager
who’s familiar with his work.

The Padres acquired Kennedy just before Wednesday’s trade
deadline for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, a minor leaguer and
a draft pick.

Kennedy, 21-4 two seasons ago, is 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 21
starts and hasn’t won a game in two months.

He’s expected to start Sunday at Petco Park against the New York
Yankees, the team that took him in the first round of the June 2006
draft.

”He’s the first guy I have ever traded for twice,” said Padres
general manager Josh Byrnes, who was in the same job with Arizona
when he obtained Kennedy in a three-way deal with the Yankees and
Detroit Tigers on Dec. 8, 2009. ”He’s not too different than the
first time – a first-round pick, a pedigree guy. In Arizona he won
a lot of games and pitched a lot of innings and we got to know him
well as a pitcher there.

”He is a very legitimate starting pitcher, something we need to
take another step forward. Obviously in his best year he almost won
a Cy Young Award so we’re happy to have him.”

Another factor that makes Kennedy attractive to the Padres is
that he’s under club control through 2015.

Kennedy is 49-38 with a 3.99 ERA in 133 major league games, all
but two as a starter. He was Arizona’s opening day pitcher the past
two seasons but is 0-5 in his last 10 starts, a period that
included a 10-game suspension for his role in the incident that led
to a bench-clearing brawl against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June
11. The brawl erupted after Kennedy hit Zack Greinke with a high
pitch after doing the same to Yasiel Puig earlier in the game.

Kennedy’s last victory was June 1 against the Chicago Cubs.

After losing 5-2 at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, Kennedy
acknowledged that recent trade rumors have not helped.

”It’s hard to ignore,” he said. ”You walk into this
clubhouse, the first thing that was said to me is not something you
want to think about when you’re going out there to pitch. … It
was good natured, but it’s not something you want to hear when it’s
your start day.”

Byrnes said he’s not concerned about Kennedy’s recent
struggles.

”A lot of deals happen that way, to the extent he has had a
down year for him,” Byrnes said. ”We have scouted him a lot,
watched him recently and tried to assess at age 28 why that is and
look at Justin Masterson or Ervin Santana. There are guys who
struggled last year and are having a good year this year. We are
hopeful he can come here and get back to that form he had.”

Arizona general manager Kevin Towers, a former GM of the Padres,
has said the team needed a situational left-hander in the bullpen
and he got one in Thatcher, who is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 50 games
this season.

The Diamondbacks also got 23-year-old right-hander Matt Stites,
who is 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 14 saves in 46 games with Double-A
San Antonio.

Arizona has lost three straight and is 3 1/2 games behind
first-place Los Angeles in the NL West. San Diego is 8 1/2 out.

Thatcher bolsters what’s been a shaky bullpen for Arizona. He
has limited left-handed batters to a .215 average.

”Things happen and now I get to go back with Kevin Towers
again,” Thatcher said. ”He is a good GM. It’s exciting to get
traded. It’s a big deal. It brings excitement to be in a pennant
race. That is all you ask for, is to win. I’m looking forward to
getting over there and helping out and doing whatever they need
from me.”

Thatcher called Kennedy ”a front-line starting pitcher. So I
think San Diego is going to benefit from this as well.”

Arizona gets the Padres’ competitive balance pick between the
second and third rounds of next year’s draft.

AP Sports Writer Bob Baum in Phoenix contributed to this
report.