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Updated: Rendon activated, glad to be back

Jun 4, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

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[Updated 5:18 p.m.]

Anthony Rendon’s long, once-interrupted rehab from a pair of injuries has finally ended. The Nationals have activated the 24-year-old infielder off the disabled list, and he will make his 2015 debut Thursday night against the Cubs.

Rendon will bat second in the Nationals’ lineup.

“I had a frustrating few months, but I’m happy to be back,” he said.

On the heels of a breakthrough 2014 season in which he finished fifth in NL MVP voting, Rendon’s 2015 debut comes two months late. He was sidelined first by a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury that appeared minor when it occurred in early March but proved far more significant than the club originally believed. Then, while nearly finished with a rehab assignment in Harrisburg in late-April, Rendon strained his left oblique muscle, once again delaying his return.

Rendon began a new rehab assignment with Harrisburg last week and played in five games, going 4-for-18 with two doubles and a walk.

“I think we all were [surprised it took so long]. It just happened to be an unfortunate event at the beginning of the season. What can you do?” he said. “There was a little frustration, but everything happens for a reason. I’ve been put in this position and I just have to go forward from here.”

Every inning Rendon spent in the field during this latest rehab stint came at second base, and that’s where he will make his season debut Thursday, with Yunel Escobar remaining at third base. That’s the opposite of the Nationals’ original plan entering spring training, but with Escobar proving adept and more comfortable at third base through the season’s first two months, and with Rendon having already proven his ability to play second base, that alignment is likely to become regular for now.

Rendon insists he has no real preference for either position.

“I feel fine. I’ve always told you I feel most comfortable with a bat in my hand. As long as I’m out here to help the team,” he said.

Rendon is still working on his timing both in the field and at the plate. He does, however, have plenty of experience with injuries dating back to his days at Rice University.

“I think fortunately and unfortunately I’ve been through this situation before, so I know how to handle it. I guess I’ve done pretty well in the past with handling injuries. I think I handled it pretty well this time around, too. I’m just happy to be back.”

Rendon is not exactly sure when the injury first occurred. He was rehabbing from the knee injury when discomfort in his left oblique gradually began to bother him.

When asked how he sustained the injury, he couldn’t cite a specific swing or play: “I think just hitting too many homers. What kind of question is that? I don’t know. It just happened.”

The 2014 Silver Slugger is just glad the injury is behind him. Now comes the adjustment of trying to help a lineup that has mustered just seven total runs in their last four games.

“You can’t expect him to be the catalyst for anything right now, but we’re glad to have him back,” Matt Williams said. “The fact that he’s physically able to play is important to us, and important to him as well. So he feels good. He’s got some at-bats. Not ideal amount of at-bats, but nonetheless he’s, like we said yesterday, he’s a pretty quick study. So we’re glad to have him.”

Rendon’s reinstatement from the 15-day DL was one of a flurry of roster moves the Nationals made Thursday afternoon. Right-hander A.J. Cole was recalled from Class AAA Syracuse, with a chance to start Saturday afternoon’s game, while two young players were optioned to the minors: Taylor Jordan (to Syracuse) and Wilmer Difo (to Class AA Harrisburg).

  1. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:44 PM

    carrying forward, ’cause it’s so worth it:

    natsfan1a – Jun 4, 2015 at 2:40 PM

    [happy dance] Woooooooo! Hooooooooooo! (learned it from MicheleS)

  2. Doc - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:46 PM

    Yea! Tony Two-Bags is back!!!!!

    No 6.2 WAR this year, but let’s try for 4.2 or more!

  3. hokiepokster92 - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:46 PM

    Fingers crossed that Rendon is completely healthy. Hoped they didn’t push this one out of desperation.

  4. masterfishkeeper - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    Will be interesting to see tonight’s batting order.

  5. Hiram Hover - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    Thrilled he’s coming back. Where he plays is secondary.

    GYFNG!

  6. Nats_UrbanPlanner - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:55 PM

    GREAT NEWS! Even better bc I will be at the game tonight and on Saturday. Anthony should provide a surge of energy and enthusiasm to right the ship after theast two series. Not thrilled to see Cole pitch in person Saturday, but hope the O can show up in support and get back to Curly W’s! Cubs look to be a playoff dark horse and this should be a good measuring stick with only Werth out of the presumed everyday lineup.

    Let’s Go Nats!

  7. edbrinkman - Jun 4, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Definitely good to have him back. That said, we can’t expect Rendon to be tearing the cover off the ball right away. He’ll need some ABs to get going. My guess is he’ll be batting around 7 or 8th.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 4, 2015 at 4:01 PM

      He usually gets off to a slow start. He seems to need 4 or 5 games to get his rhythm back. I hope he proves me wrong tonight.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 4, 2015 at 5:14 PM

        Yah, maybe he just goes 3 for 5 tonight instead of 4 for 5.

  8. natsguy - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:06 PM

    Need to get him behind Harper to protect him from so many walks. Pitchers are not afraid of RZIM (like it or not) its the truth.

    • virginiascopist - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      That’s where I want him as well, behind Harper. Not sure if it will happen right away, but once he proves he’s back to form (especially if Zimm is still struggling a little), I hope he ends up there.

    • jd - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:46 PM

      Does Harper looks like he needs protection?

      • natsguy - Jun 4, 2015 at 5:47 PM

        Yes getting pitched around because nobody fears RZIM. That why so many walks.

      • jd - Jun 4, 2015 at 5:56 PM

        And yet he leads the league in home runs, OBP and WAR.

        Walks aren’t a bad thing. Every time you get on base it’s a good thing.

        Protection is nonesense.

  9. natsfan1a - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:20 PM

    Oh, and +6. 🙂

  10. infideljack - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    If Souza was here instead of Taylor, he could hit behind Harper.
    Oh well, not to be.

    • Steady Eddie - Jun 4, 2015 at 4:02 PM

      Can’t have an excellent and much more valuable Plan A to not re-sign Desi — at this point, a relief to us all — and keep Souza.

      Not to mention getting Joe Ross, who I saw pitch a very impressive game against Bowie this past Sunday. Would be surprised if he’s not ready to join the rotation by 2017.

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 4, 2015 at 5:31 PM

      Sure. And lead the league in strike outs.

      If Michael Taylor played every day, he’d post identical numbers being posted by Souza, who does play every day.

      • nattygoats - Jun 4, 2015 at 10:21 PM

        MAT is a strikeout machine. Souza much better.

  11. Drew - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    I’m down with TTB!

  12. tcostant - Jun 4, 2015 at 3:58 PM

    Glad Desi is dropping down! Welcome back Rendon.

  13. thecynicin408 - Jun 4, 2015 at 6:22 PM

    I’m among the many excited for Anthony’s return. I fear I’m expecting too much too soon, as it’s not at all likely that he inspires Mark to post “Sweet Fancy Moses” multiple times in the first few games back. But we can hope, can’t we?

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