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Despite loss, Nats happy to welcome Rendon back

Jun 5, 2015, 11:03 AM EST

Jun 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon (6) at bat against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It was all setting up for a Hollywood-esque ending for Anthony Rendon in his first game back with the Nationals.

The 24-year-old infielder, who made his long-awaited 2015 debut Thursday night after months rehabbing from knee and oblique injuries, stood at the plate in bottom of the ninth inning with two on and two out as his team was trailing 2-1 to the Chicago Cubs. The man who led the Nats in extra-base hits in 2014 was just one big knock away from sending the fans who braved the nearly two-hour delayed start to the game home happy.

But at the plate is where he would stay, as the rally ended with Clint Robinson getting picked off at first base, handing the Nats their sixth loss in seven games.

“That’s baseball,” Rendon said with a shrug afterward.

Despite the outcome, the Nats are happy to have Rendon back, as his return draws them closer to having the balanced lineup they envisioned back in spring training. And if Thursday night was any indication, he may have already shaken off the rust; he finished the game 2-for-4, hitting an opposite field single in his first at-bat and later doubling to set up the team’s only run of the night in the sixth inning.

“I felt alright,” he said of his first at-bat in the majors since last October. “I tried to calm myself down a little bit more than usual. Just tried to relax, tried not to do too much. Keep it simple and try put the barrel on it.”

Now that Rendon’s back in the fold, he’ll try to build on his breakout 2014 campaign in which he hit .287 with 21 home runs and 83 RBI, finishing fifth in the NL MVP voting.

“He’s a great hitter,” Bryce Harper said. “I think everybody knows that. He’s going to do what he does and he’s going to hit his doubles and his balls through the hole and hit homers, too. He’s going to get on base and help us definitely. We’re excited to have him back.”

“It’s awesome,” left starter Gio Gonzalez added. “He’s unbelievable and it’s great to see him back in the lineup finally.”

The Nats missed more than just Rendon’s bat; they value his versatility in the field, something that was on display almost immediately upon his return. After starting the game at second base, he had to move to what many consider his natural position at third when Yunel Escobar came out with a wrist injury.

“[It was like] 2013 all over again,” Rendon said of the switch. “It’s good though. I guess I’m fortunate enough to be able to move position around like that, so I guess that’s a good thing.”

It was just one game — and a loss, at that — but the Nats are hoping that Rendon’s presence, both in the field and at the plate, can help spark a club looking to get hot again.

“It was just awesome to be back,” he said. “A good feeling.”

  1. npb99 - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    Not Craig, but Clint. As in Eastwood.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      Details, details …

      You expect these guys to go to journalism school or something?

    • ITGSOT - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:20 PM

      Not a good week for Clints, what with the original d-bag “in game host” making a return appearance and then the pickoff. Maybe Robinson figured a name change was in order, but Giancarlo would be a bit too over the top.

  2. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    Anyone know if this is true?

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      Wow. File under “interesting if true” until we know more.

      But Ross is not on the 40 man, is he?

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:54 AM

        No he is not but they could easily move Stammen or Reed Johnson to the 60 day DL to make room for him

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      If it is, someone needs to drop off the 40 man roster. Maybe Stammen goes on the 60 day DL.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      It was the plan on Wednesday that it was Joe Ross and he was perfectly setup for Saturday.

      Now it’s whether they need Cole in long relief.

      Wait and see but the indication is Ross would be who Rizzo prefers from my source. I heard this yesterday and I think it’s been floated by others.

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        Key word is “called up” and that didnt happen. I also think it will happen.

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        Sorry, key word in that Tweet is “called up” which mean he already has and that isnt true.

  3. laddieblahblah - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    “Just tried to relax…”

    If he tries any harder to relax, he could end up in a self-induced hypnotic state. As usual, he joked with the umps and even the opposing catcher on his way to the batter’s box. He was missed.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      Agree. This guy is a gem.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        +1

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:55 AM

      Quote from Anthony Rendon:

      “I tried to calm myself down a little bit more than usual. Just tried to relax, tried not to do too much. Keep it simple and try put the barrel on it.”

      And a quote from Trea Turner:

      “Just slow it down and become more consistent,” he said. “Just try to get better any way you can. Whether it’s offensively or defensively, just go out there every day and try to learn something. Just grow.”

      I think these two are kindred spirits as to how they see the game.

  4. NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    Twitter thinks it’s true. 🙂
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_pit.php?reportid=272

    • jd - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      Interesting move. I wonder who is going down. Hill I guess.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:06 PM

        I think that Joe Ross is going to be a steady ML pitcher someday, but man, oh, man, the guy is just a somewhat inconsistent minor league pitcher right now with real good, but raw,under developed stuff. I thought it might come to this, what with how poor the results have been from so many others, but I say he’s going to need all the prayers, sage, and sacrificial goats and chickens available.

    • NIWatcher - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:40 PM

      Wow. Ross is seven months younger than Harper.

  5. nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/files/2015/06/HarperSafe.jpg&w=1484

    Bias by Drake on Harper. Those who think “NO”, think again.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:55 AM

      Time to move on. He got the call wrong. Why he got the call wrong, that photo can’t possibly prove.

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 11:59 AM

        Sure it’s speculation and only Drake knows but that was blown bad.

  6. micksback1 - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:08 PM

    Rendon looks like he has not missed a beat, great players are like that.

    I know others have commented on probably the same things I am going to:

    1) Does MLB hire derelicts who are on drugs to review plays in the booth??
    2) Has Joe west always been a worthless fat crap or did he have to work at it?
    3) What the hell was Robinson and 1st base coach thinking, with Taylor at 2nd??

    DUMB BASEBALL PERIOD!!!

    Any way, Gio pitched well and so did Barrett. The lack of hitting is puzzling, although I think R Zim is simply lousy at the plate this season.

    • bowdenball - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:19 PM

      For what it’s worth (not much), Robinson had plenty of reason to try to get a good secondary lead. He was the go-ahead run. Taylor being on second is totally irrelevant. He wasn’t trying to steal, he was trying to win the game on a double. Rendon has been known to hit those from time to time.

      Of course those extra couple feet aren’t nearly worth the added risk, so it was still an exceptionally stupid move. But it wasn’t a pointless move. There was a benefit to be had.

    • Toot D. Blan - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:29 PM

      Phil Wood summed up Joe West pretty well on the postgame radio show last night. He said something like “As musicians go, and I’m a musician myself and have spent a lot of time on that kind of stage, well…I’ve heard Joe West’s music that he’s out there selling. And It’s just not very good music.” Now, I’ve never heard Phil Wood’s music myself, but from the looks of him and the fact that he gets paid to talk on the radio and not play music on it, I can’t imagine it’s all that good either. So if he’s dissing Joe West’s music, Joe West’s music must be pretty bad.

      Then Charlie Slowes followed up by recalling what he said when he was handed the sheet with the umpire assignments for this series on it. “Wow. That’s a BAD crew.”

      BTW, Joe West will be calling balls and strikes for the rookie on Saturday. Should be interesting…

  7. paulfortier - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    You know what? I can’t stand watching RZ anymore. It seems that he lost the power he once had. You tell me he is a clutch hitter, that his RBI numbers are good? Many times, this season, he had three .300 hitters in front of him. The only game he ddn’t play, his replacement, Tyler Moore, had 3 RBI. So. I saw him hit a lot of double play ball and striked out on the fastball in the middle of the plate…

    I live far from Washington, in Quebec, Canada (and English is not my natural language, as you already understood). But many of you are at the Nationals Park and see the games live. Do you see anything wrong between RZ and Bryce Harper? Watching games on MLB.com, I once saw RZ refusing a high five from Bryce Harper after a homerun from BH. When I see them one near the other, I never, never see them talking to each other. Cold as ice. The don’t even look to each other. Am I wrong?

    It looks like since the arrival of Bruce Harper with the team, meaning, since RZ lost his title (Face of the Franchise), RZ is not the same, he lacks of confidence, of identity. It seems like I doesn’t know his role anymore.

    Yeah, he was often injured. But this year? How can you explain his horrible numbers? Why MW is almost always putting him in the line-up?

    • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:23 PM

      With regard to RZ and Harper: I thought the same as you, initially. It was possible. He was supplanted as the star of the Nats. I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that Zim is mature enough to understand his limitations, particularly as he endured injuries that mean he would never make the Hall-of-Fame–and that he’s simply NOT demonstrative.

      Bear in mind everything I say is speculative.

      He seems to regard baseball as a job, not the end-all-be-all of his life. He takes baseball professionally, works hard at it, works through a lot of pain, and competes when he’s on the field. At some point, probably about the time Bryce arrived, but probably also about the time he got injuries that hampered his All-Star, Gold-Glove performances, Zim had to face the fact that he was going to have a good but not great major league career. That’s a heckuva lot more than most of us have. I think he knows that. If he’s cool to Bryce, well, he’s cool to most people. He may not like Bryce, whose style is so opposite to his. But I don’t think his confidence or possible lack thereof is based on Bryce, I think it’s more based on his own injuries and performance.

      • natsjackinfl - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:29 PM

        Good call, NatsLady. I see it pretty much that way, too.

        And as for the plantar fasciitis, if someone doesn’t think it affects hitting, just think back to Albert Pujols 3 years ago. I’m pretty sure he tell you it sure does.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:39 PM

        +1.

        Hard to psychoanalyze at a distance, but this sounds much closer to right.

    • bowdenball - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      Well, he is known for starting slow. His three best months for OPS over his career, in order, are August, July and September. His OPS for the second half of the season over his career is almost 100 points higher than his OPS for the first half.

      But that doesn’t explain him playing this poorly. He’s also injured- not sure why you seem to think he’s not when the plantar fasciitis story was everywhere just yesterday. And he’s on the wrong side of 30 now. I think those are all variables. I don’t think his relationship with Harper or any jealousy over being the “face of the franchise” has anything to do with it. That frankly sounds like a bunch of horse poop to me. They seem to get along just fine, and Zimmerman has never been one to demand the spotlight anyway. If anything I’d guess he welcomes Harper’s presence taking away some attention.

      As for keeping him in the lineup, obviously there’s the aforementioned tendency to heat up, and his excellent career numbers, both of which are good reasons to give him a long leash. But also, who do you suggest should replace him? Tyler Moore is worse at the plate and in the field even as compared to the current slumping version of Zimm. Move him down from the 5 spot now that Rendon is back, maybe. But out of the lineup? Come on.

    • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:30 PM

      As for MW putting Zim in the lineup: if Zim is healthy enough to produce, he’s the best first baseman available. If not, he should be on the DL. Apparently MW has not reached the point of putting him on the DL. Given that both plantar fasciitis and shoulder injuries aren’t healed in a week (or 15 days), MW seems to be operating on the “hope springs eternal” methodology.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:31 PM

      Wow, never noticed that between RZim and Harper and just to let you know Harp and MW don’t high 5 after a HR as they have a ritual.

      Werth keeps that clubhouse in line and I can tell you RZim and Harp are cool. They won’t hangout but Bryce is a lone wolf in that respect.

      The bigger issue is RZim’s poor baseline stats. Defense has been great and clutch numbers have been good. Clearly in a slump now overall.

      More regular rest days and move him down in the order. Move Bryce up in the order.

      • jd - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:38 PM

        Ghost,

        I am really surprised at your insistence of moving Harper up. Do you really want him hitting with 2 outs and no one on most nights in teh 1st inning? because that’s what most 3rd place hitters do most of the time. If Span or rendon or whoever hits 3rd get on base he will come up in the 1st with an RBI opporunity while hitting 4th,.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:42 PM

        I’m more concerned about RZim slumping and Harper having Rendon in front of him or behind him.

    • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:40 PM

      Anyway, glad you posted on this @paulfortier, because it’s a subject I’ve thought about for a long time (even wrote a blog post about). Zim’s been around a long time, and will be around for a long time yet. We’ll ride his ups and downs, like it or not. To me, it’s fascinating to watch his career.

    • natsdial8 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:53 PM

      i like Z and think he is a tough competitve athlete . Analyze all you want but end result is he needs to hit. Nats have been very patient with quite a few players and I think that is to managment’s credit . They seem to give certain players a lot of passes.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    Here’s the deal with Joe Ross. He’s scheduled to pitch tonight for AA Harrisburg. Rizzo told them he could be called up and to be ready. A good chance he will be scratched tonight.

    Stand by.

    • jd - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      Ghost,

      For what it’s worth I don’t really understand the need to do this. He has pitched well enough at AA but has been far from dominant. Cole has been decent out of the pen. Why not give him the ball Saturday?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:36 PM

        Agreed on Ross has been good but not dominant. It’s who will pitch better, Ross who they have no film on or Cole.

        Cole will be good but his mechanics where he opens up and shows his arm is just bad form and they haven’t corrected it yet. I could hit Cole if he was throwing 85. It’s the classic Iron Mike arm and following the ball.

        This could also be a smokescreen so the Cubs don’t know who to prepare for with the early game tomorrow.

        Stay tuned.

      • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:43 PM

        No problem by me if it’s just busting Joe Madden’s chops. I find him very annoying, even more annoying than the Mets fans and writers in my timeline gloating as if they weren’t throwing Niese out there tonight. 😉

      • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:46 PM

        The Baseball Prospectus scout said Ross could see the majors in 2015, so it doesn’t seem that far-fetched that he’s seeing it in June as opposed to September.

  9. natsdial8 - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    “Maddon was asked if he looks at past performances of hitters against that night’s starting pitcher in making his lineup. “Not at all. We have our own cocktail brewing,” he said. “I won’t deny that I’ll look at it after I’ve done my lineup, just curiously to see how our work compares to real life.””

    I like it.

    • NatsLady - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      Well, good for Joe, in this case. Sample sizes of hitter vs. pitcher are so small as to be virtually meaningless. You can look at platoon splits, you can look at tendencies (types of pitches), you can look at who is hot, who is healthy–all of those have more effect (IMO).

      • natsdial8 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:12 PM

        I kind of take his comments that he relies less on stats and more on what he feels intuitively . No ?

  10. natsdial8 - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:52 PM

    Does anyone know current status with MASN dispute. I thought there was to be a May court hearing but I have lost track .

    • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      There was and now waiting for the Judge to issue his ruling.

      • natsdial8 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        Thx

  11. jfmii - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:55 PM

    “It’s the classic Iron Mike arm and following the ball.” Ghost of Steve M., further explanation, please?

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 5, 2015 at 12:59 PM

      You don’t remember the old pitching machines that delivered the ball straight over the top instead of from a centrifugal gun?

      • jfmii - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:06 PM

        Got it, thanks

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:05 PM

      The long arm of the old pitching machine just is very deliberate and telegraphed vs the new style wheel and gun machines.

      I loved Cole out of High School but he wont have success at this level until he closes his front shoulder and comes across his body more.

      Right now a good MLBer can see the ball out of his hand too well.

      Cole needs more work at it and I think he can still be good.

      • jfmii - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:09 PM

        It seems that for every Tanner Roark (not on anybody’s radar, comes up big in the majors), there seem to be many AJ Coles (hot until exposed in the majors).

        Thanks for the explanation

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:15 PM

        Any time. Scherzer throws more open than JZim but has a right to left arm whip that creates deception. Cole needs to add something and while he got exposed he’s shown that his stuff is very good. I still think they can perfect him to be a true starter.

  12. nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:17 PM

    James Wagner and Chris Johnson are both using the Tweet from @NorCalBaseball as their source that Ross is getting called up.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:20 PM

      #@masnkerr: Can confirm Joe Ross will be called up from AA to start for #Nats Saturday; per industry source; h/t @NorCalBaseball”

      Still no word like I said if Harrisburg scratched Ross from tonight but expect that to be done almost certainly in case Cole is used tonight.

  13. nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:23 PM

    Rosenthal on the Zobrist to Nats rumor.

    • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      I like the idea of turning it into a 3-fer blockbuster with Tyler Clippard and Ike Davis. Solves many holes for the Nats.

      Just don’t know at what cost at that can’t be cheap.

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:28 PM

        Note that Zobrist hasnt been great this year .222/.304 /.383/.687

        Will be a FA after the season so definitely a short term rental.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:36 PM

        If Rizzo gets a package as a salary dump then great. Like you said with the stats and I will add that Zobrist is looking old and frustrated.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:32 PM

        Zobrist just came back from the DL, didn’t he? To heck with Zobrist, get Burns back. [Fat chance]

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:35 PM

        Do you think they would take Jerry Blevins back?

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:47 PM

        No, and I’ll guarantee you that they wouldn’t give you Burns for denDekker. Billy Burns has won their hearts out there. The writers are whispering ROY consideration.

      • nats128 - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:55 PM

        Has to be in the discussion and probaly wont win but still will get votes.

        Hes held his own and most likely will regress becuz right now hes playing All Star level baseball.

  14. Theophilus T.S. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    I think Ross is the closest Rizzo has come — recently — to pushing the panic button. His team has been hammered by exposing under-stuffed AAA cave dwellers. So where to turn next? All he wants is five innings of two-ER baseball. So, try to get a hundred 95-96 mph pitches from the only pitcher in the upper minors who has that ability.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:35 PM

      That’s not panic you hear, it’s strategy.

      • natsjackinfl - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:42 PM

        Exactly. Joe Ross will push for a spot in the rotation next season. No problem introducing him to the bigs for a spot start now.

        I like it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        Me too. I like it a lot and a shame the news broke prematurely but as soon as Ross will get scratched tonight the secret would be out.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:42 PM

        It’s a moon shot.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:46 PM

        One start, maybe 2. Someone has to do it.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:51 PM

        I’m not saying it won’t work, just that there is substantial risk we get another two-inning, nine-run performance. If it was strategy Rizzo should have pulled the string before sending Jordan out there the other night. Jordan was chosen, if I’m right, on the basis of two not-quite-a disaster long relief performances. What was overlooked was that both those nights ended on a sour note. Jordan does not have a starter’s stuff, not only in terms in velocity but also in terms of the ability to get through the lineup more than once. So they start him and he tries to pace himself and gets pounded. I hope Ross throws ninety percent fastballs until his arm falls off — that was pretty much the secret to Treinen’s success last season, such as it was.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:53 PM

        From that prospective those are the risks. Lucky Gio made it to the 6th last night.

        I think this is a slightly different Rizzo. I said it the day he cut Frandsen. He’s thinking more outside the box.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 5, 2015 at 1:53 PM

      Theo

      Yes, there’s risk. But you can’t beat something with nothing.

      If not Ross, who?

  15. David Proctor - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:07 PM

    Zobrist has under 100 PAs this year so it’s hard to judge his numbers, especially with a .219 BABIP. He’s been the model of consistency and he’s not THAT old, so I don’t think the tank is empty. If teams are down on Zobrist because of his current numbers, this would be a great buy low opportunity.

    I suspect teams are mostly disregarding his current numbers though. I don’t want a bidding war, but I’d be willing to give up a decent (but not spectacular) prospect. After having watched him pitch a couple times, I might even be willing to send over AJ Cole. Very unimpressed with him. But that’s why I’m not a GM.

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

      Uhhh, Beane has already had Cole once. Not sure he wants to go there again.

      • David Proctor - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:12 PM

        Of course, but Cole is a controllable young pitcher that ostensibly still has upside. I’m not sure how much more you can ask for half a season of Zobrist. But once other teams get involved, the price goes up.

      • jd - Jun 5, 2015 at 2:35 PM

        Cole is still only 23 years old, he has climbed steadily through the minors, not always smoothly but he has graduated every level succsesfully. I think he has very good tools so I would be very warry of giving up on him now especially with JZim and Fister about to test free agebcy and Strasburg next year.

        To be honest I don’t see what Zobrist brings to the table at this time.

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