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Anthony Rendon was drafted out of Rice as a third baseman.
"It feels like just yesterday I was playing select ball, growing up," he said. "And the next thing you know, I'm right here. It's pretty awesome."
Rendon knows he has no chance to make the Opening Day roster. He hasn't even played an inning of minor-league ball since the Nationals drafted him sixth overall last June. But he should get plenty out of his first professional spring training, most notably an opportunity to work at multiple infield positions.
Drafted as a third baseman, Rendon expects to see time at both shortstop and second base this spring after meeting with manager Davey Johnson this morning.
"I just talked to skipper, and he said I'll probably be moving around from third to short and second," Rendon said. "He said he wanted to work on my footwork at second base before I go out there, because it's a different world on that side of the infield."
Johnson downplayed that notion some later this afternoon, saying he might have Rendon play shortstop some but that he wouldn't be at second base until getting at least a two-week, crash-course lesson in the position.
"I look at you at third, but for the purpose of getting you in some games here I may have to play you at short," Johnson said he told Rendon. "And he said he didn't have a problem with that."
The reason for the potential switch is obvious: The Nationals already have Ryan Zimmerman firmly entrenched at third base. Though the "Face of the Franchise" is only signed through 2013, the two sides have been working on a long-term extension, one that could keep Zimmerman in D.C. the rest of his career.
That could require an eventual position change for Rendon, who doesn't seem to have any problem with the notion.
"[Zimmerman] is going to be here for a long time, I'm pretty sure," Rendon said. "He's a great player. I'm not trying to come here and take anything away from him, because he's set in stone here. He deserves everything he's earned. I'm not trying to ruin that."
Rendon has played both second base and shortstop in the past, though he barely played any position last season at Rice due to a lingering shoulder injury that convinced several clubs to take a pass on him during the draft.
The Nationals never expected Rendon to fall to them at the No. 6 spot, but once he did they didn't waste any time scooping him up, figuring the position question could be answered sometime down the road.
Though he hasn't played in any actual games since the draft, Rendon has worked out extensively, both in Florida during the fall instructional league and over the winter at his home in Texas. The Nationals had him work with infield coordinator Jeff Garber on his throwing motion, and Rendon emerged with his arm feeling strong.
He arrived in camp insisting there are no questions in his mind about his ability to throw or hit.
"Oh, no. I've been doing that in the offseason," he said. "I know I'm capable of doing everything right now, because that's what I've been doing."