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Rendon works out at Nats Park; Williams on ‘clutch’

May 20, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Anthony Rendon continued his slow recovery from a left oblique strain on Wednesday at Nationals Park, as he rejoined the team after training for several days at extended spring training in Viera, Fla.

Rendon took groundballs at second base, did some running and took swings in the batting cage. Though it’s a small step, the 2014 Silver Slugger looked good according to manager Matt Williams.

“It was a good day for him. We’re glad to have him back here on the road to recovery,” Williams explained. “Right now we’re trying to get him as healthy as possible. Today he took some grounders. He did some light swinging in the cage. All of the strengthening work. Running, of course. And then some light lifting, as well.”

Rendon, who was removed a minor league rehab assignment after playing three games nearly three weeks ago, still does not have a timeline to return.

“We don’t know. Obliques are difficult because you just don’t know,” Williams said. “The objective is to make sure he’s fully ready to go and that he has no pain doing anything and no issues doing anything. Then we’ll look to games. That timetable, nobody really knows. We’ll continue to ramp it up slowly as well as we can.”

Rendon declined to talk to reporters about his recovery on Wednesday and has not spoken publicly about his rehab since late in spring training. He has been on the mend since spraining his left MCL on March 9. Rendon began a rehab assignment for that injury before feeling tightness in his oblique.

Rendon, 24, hit .287 with 21 homers, 83 RBI and a league-best 111 runs in 2014.

Williams shares thoughts on whether ‘clutch’ exists in baseball

With the introduction of advanced statistics and sabermetrics into the mainstream of baseball analysis in recent years, many debates have been both started and finished. One that may forever be a point of contention is whether the element of clutch exists and whether a player can be more reliable in clutch situations than another.

The basis of the argument by sabermetricians is that there is no stat that can define the notion of clutch and that numbers do not vary significantly for most players depending on high pressure situations. The other side says clutch absolutely does exist, but it can’t be quantified by numbers.

Nationals manager Matt Williams weighed in on the matter Wednesday and feels strongly about clutch being a factor. The question was inspired by Ryan Zimmerman’s 10th career walk-off home run the night before.

“I don’t think we have to look any further than some of the best players in our game. What it means to me is that the situation doesn’t become too big for that particular player. Heart rate doesn’t increase, they have the ability to relax, the ability to take an at-bat and understand what the situation is and look for a pitch and execute what you need to execute. That’s clutch,” he explained.

“I believe we have some guys on our club that can do that sort of thing. Some veteran guys that have been there and done it. When they get in a pressure situation or a situation where they have the opportunity to end the game with one swing or make the good pitch, or whatever it is, they’ve been there. You only gain that through experience, really, and failing in that situation. We’ve got some guys who can do that. I believe a clutch player is somebody that understands their situation that faces them and that doesn’t get too excited when that situation comes about and is able to simply do what they do.”

Williams also happened to comment on the idea of ‘momentum’ in baseball earlier this month. That is also the subject of debate for many of the same reasons.

“I think there’s momentum within a game itself, but once one’s over, you gotta start all over again the next day,” he said.

So, there you have it. Case closed, right? Probably not, but there’s one man’s opinion.

  1. bisonaudit - May 21, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    So, Matt thinks that clutch = not choking. OK, but, that’s not actually what most people mean when they try to say the clutch is a thing.

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