Rendon started at third base, and in the third inning he had a chance to show off his slick fielding. The Marlins’ Chone Figgins dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. Rendon charged, scooped it with his bare hand, set himself and made a powerful, overhand throw to first base, nabbing Figgins by a full step.
In his first at-bat, Rendon smoked a one-hopper right at the shortstop. During a rain delay, Johnson walked through the dugout and told starters they were coming out. Rendon tried to sit quietly, to avoid detection so he could stay in. Johnson made eye contact with Rendon. He nodded to the field. “All right,” Johnson said. “You’re getting another at-bat.”
Rendon faced right-handed reliever Ryan Webb, a major leaguer last season with a 4.03 ERA in 601
3 innings. Webb fed Rendon a fastball away, and Rendon pulverized it. The ball rocketed to right-center field, over the wall.
Rendon swings easy, and the ball trampolines off his bat. Last year in Class AA Harrisburg, Rendon hit three home runs, all of them, he said, to the opposite field.
“This last year or so, I’ve noticed I’ve gotten a lot of power toward the right side,” the 6-foot, 195-pound right-handed hitter said. “I guess it’s just happening. I really don’t know.”
Rendon will start the season in the minors, likely Harrisburg but possibly Class AAA Syracuse. He will bide his time, gaining experience and waiting for his opportunity. With injuries to others, the Nationals may summon him during the summer. As long he stays healthy — “Play a whole season,” he says when asked his goal — then a September call-up seems certain.
“Of course, it’s going to be in my mind,” Rendon said. “I can’t jump ahead. I just got to keep working hard, day in and day out. If they feel I can help the team somehow, I’m up for it.”