December 5, 2022

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Gilbert's Newsletter: Walker's glue to keeping team together

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A CONVERSATION WITH IAN KENNEDY

Nine years after being dealt to the Padres just before the Trade Deadline, Ian Kennedy is back with the D-backs after the right-hander signed a free-agent deal right after the end of the lockout. Kennedy was a starter for the D-backs from 2010-13, helping to lead them to the NL West title in 2011, when he went 21-4.

What’s the biggest difference being here nine years after you left?

It’s weird. I feel like there’s more similarities.

OK, let’s go with what similarities. Does it feel like you’ve never left in some ways?

It does. The fans have been great to me and they were when I was here the last time, too. There are a lot of familiar faces with the clubhouse staff, security workers. It’s just very familiar. The team also feels like it’s in the same place as when I got here [in 2010]. We had some good players like Chris Young and Justin Upton who took things to another level in 2011, and that really propelled us and I feel like we’re close again.

Do you remember your 21st victory in 2011?

I remember my 20th a lot more. The 21st was the night after we had just clinched the division and it was a late night of celebrating. If I hadn’t already gotten my 20th, I probably would’ve stayed in and been a little more conservative. But when you work so hard as a team to win, you’ve got to celebrate it together. It was a lot of fun.

What is your favorite memory from your first go-around here?

Pitching in the playoffs in 2011. Every time I watch the playoffs, I still think about my first time starting Game 1 in Milwaukee. It was my first experience pitching in one, and you couldn’t hear yourself think [because] that place was so loud. My second game, Game 5, was the deciding game and it was even louder. Those are the memories that I will always remember — pitching my first two playoff games. The first one went by quick, but the second one, Game 5, I remember a lot more. It was just such a fun time.

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