In only a week of spring training, Anthony Rendon has been among the most impressive players in camp. He is calm, composed and swinging the bat well. And, although it’s still early, it has begged the question: Is there any way he breaks camp with the Nationals?
“No,” Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said before Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Lake Buena Vista. “He needs the reps. He needs to play.”
The Nationals are high on Rendon, 22, and his talent, which has been display so far in spring training. As Ryan Zimmerman recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, Rendon has been the Nationals frequent third baseman in games. The infielder, who is the Nationals’ top prospect, has played in five games already and is hitting .417 (5 for 12) with two doubles, one home run and five RBI. He is poised at the plate, has worked opposing pitchers and at least twice hit the ball with a backspin that allows it to carry, a trait seen more often among veteran players.
But Rendon’s professional career has been halted by injuries, something that Nationals want him to overcome this season. They want him to show that he can play stay healthy and get the at-bats in the minor leagues he has missed because of injury. Last season, he fractured his left ankle in the second game of the season with Class A Potomac and played only 43 games, reaching Class AA Harrisburg by the end of the season. He missed a season early in college with torn ligaments in his right ankle and dealt with a shoulder strain in his senior year at Rice.
Though Rendon won’t break camp with the Nationals, according to Johnson, that doesn’t rule out a potential call-up in the future. If he can stay healthy a full season — which is his goal now — a September call-up seems likely.