Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ready to overcome injury-prone label

Associated Press file photo
Anthony Rendon played in only 43 games last season due to injury.
VIERA, Fla. -- Anthony Rendon hears the whispers. He knows how people might be looking at his baseball career from afar. That, even at 22, he's already been tagged with one of the least-desirable designations in sports:


The Nationals' top-rated prospect hasn't made it through a full year without some sort of injury since high school. There was an ankle injury in 2009 during the final game of his rookie season at Rice University. Then another ankle injury in 2010 while playing in an international competition. Then a nagging shoulder injury in 2011 that made his draft stock plummet and allowed him to fall to Washington at No. 6.

Then, in his first professional season, a freak fractured ankle in his first week with Class A Potomac, sidelining him four months.

Some might bristle when asked about that injury-prone label being thrust upon them. Rendon laughs it off.

"Everybody has their own opinion, so I can't knock them," he said. "I'm pretty sure if I were in their shoes, I'd probably feel the same way about a player who's had all the injury history I've had."

What else can Rendon do at this point but shrug his shoulders and convince himself this will be the year he manages to avoid the disabled list and take a major step forward in his development?

The 6-foot, 195-pound third baseman feels great as camp opens, the ankle completely healed, the shoulder no longer an issue. When he takes hacks in the batting cage, he still boasts perhaps the smoothest, effort-free swing in the entire organization.

Rendon may have played in only 43 minor-league games during the regular season and posted suspect numbers -- .233 average, six homers, 12 RBI -- but he was 100 percent healthy during the Arizona Fall League and excelled, hitting .338 with a .930 OPS in 22 games.

"It was nice to salvage last year a little bit," he said. "Coming back and playing the last month, it gave me a kick-start before the Fall League. It really gave me a boost of confidence, let me know I can come back again from an injury."

Rendon figures to open the season back at Class AA Harrisburg, where he hit .162 in September. He's slated to begin the year at his natural third base position, but the Nationals are having him work out at both second base and shortstop this spring, recognizing there's a good chance he'll need to switch positions once ready for the big leagues (with Ryan Zimmerman locked up through at least 2019).

He's been perfectly willing to learn the nuances of the other positions, but tries not to think too far down the road about how he could be blocked at several spots at the big-league level.

"I try not to look at it like that," he said. "Because a lot can happen. Injuries. Trades. Tomorrow, I might not even be here. Anything can happen. So I just try to stay focused on what I'm doing each and every day, try to go out there and get better."

More than anything, Rendon just wants to get on the field and play every single day. Not just for a week. Not just for a month. For a full season.

Perhaps then he'll be able to cast aside the label that's become attached to him so early in his career.

"It would mean the world to me," he said. "Because I know I'm not that kind of player. I want to go out there and play every day. That's what I enjoy doing. I don't like people saying: 'He's injury-prone, or whatever.' I just want to prove to people that I can play and that I want to play."


MicheleS said...

Stay healthy young man.

(HEY ESPI.. this is the guy you have to worry about).

rarumberger said...

There's really not a foreseeable spot for Rendon anytime soon. 3B and 1B are locked up tight beyond any doubt for the next two seasons, and SS and 2B are almost as sure. Even the outfield is set.

This is why I'm glad they're not moving him off 3B yet. If it looks like they want to replace Espinosa or Desmond, then they can move him to 2B, but until that decision is made, why wouldn't they leave him at his natural position? He'll be a better trade chip at 3B, and from the moment we drafted him that seemed like his destiny anyway.

SCNatsFan said...

I still think by the end of the year Danny is on the DL and Rendon is playing 2B. I like Lombo but if the reports on this guy's bat are true then we will need to find a lineup space for him.

Teddy Rochlis said...

I asked an expert what he thought on the whole situation with Rendon, zimmerman and espinosa. Assuming that espinosa pans out like Desimond he thought they would trade Rendon. Not my opinion just his. And i am not naming names.

EmDash said...

Looks like they're reporting that Ross Detwiler is pitching in the WBC too? That seems like a bad idea. Gio was one thing, because he's been through several complete seasons as a starter and knows the routine pretty well. Last year was already the most innings Det's ever pitched in a season, so they're going to have to be pretty careful with him this year anyway.

JD said...

I just think that 2nd base is the wrong position for someone with Rendon's ankle injury history. I think there are 2 more reasonable scenarios for Rendon:

1) The Peric scenario - Zim to 1st and Rendon to 1st after LaRoche moves on.

2) Trade.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Unless there is a serious injury, Rendon will spend the entire season in the minors. A Septembee call up should happen but this kid has to prove he can stand up to the grind of day in and day out baseball for 150 consecutive days.

So far, he hasn't completed more than 90 days ever.

The Fox said...

I agree with JD although I think he meant Rendon to 3rd, and I hope NatsJack is correct that they let him develop in the minors.

That said if he's hitting .350 in the minors they probably find a spot for him somewhere. Unless the MLB team is already tearing the cover off the ball then they have more options.

Joe Seamhead said...

You're going to move a FoF player from his position because of his injury riddled past, to a position he has never played so as to replace him with a kid that has his own injury history, and has never played an inning above AA? Before jumping that gun, let's see the young man play a healthy year, at a higher level. Anthony has a ton of potential, but needs to show that he has "it," not just the potential of having it.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Long-term it has always looked like Zim would finish his career at 1st base. It was just "Fool's Gold" to think it would happen in 2013 as Peric kept pushing.

It could certainly happen in 2015 or 2016.

tayo said...

Moving Zim to 1st long terms is a possibility, but the Nats have two very good prospects in Moore and Skole that have as much, if not a better chance of being our 1b for the future with Zim remaining at 3rd. I see Rendons only in into our lineup as either at 2nd base.

Section 222 said...

Wait, but I thought Zim's shoulder was prepared, and his throwing motion will be back to normal, ad all will be well at that position for years to come. No? Hmm.

Rendon needs to play a full, injury-free season in the minors. No doubt about that. And if all the chips fall as we hope they will, that will happen.

But if Danny heads to the DL as seems likely, are we really ok with Lombo as the full time 2B for the rest of the season and Zach or Carlos or whatever his name is as our infield utility guy? I sure wouldn't be surprised to see Rendon in the majors before September under those circumstances. It's just good planning to let him learn how to play the other infield positions too. That's sure not going to hurt his trade value if it comes to that.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Joe's comment is very valid as you only make the move if someone better pushes him out. Who's better in the system than Ryan Zimmerman at 3rd?

JD said...

NatsJack is 100% correct.Before any of this is an issue Rendon needs to put a full healthy season in the rear view mirror; he needs to show that he can handle AA pitching etc. At the same time we will have a better feel for what we have with Moore and Skole.

This is why I think that talk of moving Rendon to 2nd base is way premature at best.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

When Rendon was Drafted, I immediately said 2nd base or LF. Given the current outfield, the only way Rendon gets a shot here in the near-term is as an injury replacement or 2nd base.

Long-term is different. I see him as a Placido Polanco in many facets of his game and possibly with a higher ceiling.

ptindc said...

Was watching a Nats Classics game yesterday. It was a July 2010 game v. Philly. Couple of observations: I'm glad Dibble is gone, I'm glad they got rid of the gold and redesigned the uniforms, and lastly, it's amazing to see the turnover of talent in the starting line up (Dunn, Morgan, Hammer, Pudge, Kennedy). Much better to be here now, than there then.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...


Check out Bryce on another SI cover!

BigCat said...

I question Rendon's heart. I don't think he really wants to play. And riding those buses is the wrong spot to be if you don't want to play. Time will tell.

rarumberger said...

BigCat - That's kind of out of nowhere. Why would you think that?

Section 222 - It doesn't seem "likely" that Danny is headed to the DL. It seems very possible, yes, but it's only "likely" if you're choosing to believe the exact opposite of literally every single thing that's been said or written about it so far this spring.

DaveBinMD said...

Folks, keep in mind that Rendon grew-up playing 2B and short. It's not going to be a huge adjustment for him to switch back to a position that probably WAS his natural position until Rice U. moved him to 3B.

Unknown said...

If Espinosa is unable to excel with his hurt arm and I think this is likely and if the Nats make the post-season, I think Rendon is going to be playing second base in October for the Nats.

peric said...

If he's healthier and the better fielder Zim moves to first base.

John C. said...

And if he's healthier but Zim is the better fielder Zim will stay right where he is.

Post a Comment