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Byline: Rick Hurd
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. _ They descend upon him like the quiet dusting of snow flakes. Pitchers, unique in their deliveries and their stuff and their demeanor, blow into Jason Kendall's life each spring, no two exactly alike.
"Condition of the job," he puts it.
Indeed, Kendall resides in the domain of the catcher, and this annual onset of the men with whom he must become one and the same comes with the territory. Each summer, Kendall must collect this gathering of pitchers and mold them into something cohesive. He's been doing it professionally for 10 springs and summers now, and, like the shoveler of snow who has his system down pat, he's become so proficient that it can be taken for granted.
Yet perhaps this season has finally brought appreciation from afar. The A's have charged to the forefront of the American League pennant race with a 41-14 blitz that has been spearheaded by the men who work so closely with Kendall everyday. The A's have posted an AL-best 3.20 ERA (179 ER/502 2/3) during that time, including a 3.40 (138 ER, 365 1/3 IP) mark by their starters.
To a man, the pitchers say Kendall deserves much of …