(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Third baseman Anthony Rendon returned to the Nationals‘ lineup Tuesday night, but the team remained cautious with his sore right hand even in the hours leading up to first pitch. Roughly two hours before the start of the game, Manager Matt Williams said it was possible Rendon may sit out a fourth consecutive game.

“He’s in there, but we’ll monitor it closely,” Williams said. “If he’s got any problem in [batting practice], we’ll make a change.”

Rendon had hit in a batting cage Sunday and Monday, and he swung again early Tuesday. He fielded grounders and threw across the diamond Monday and “felt okay,” Williams said.

Rendon suffered the injury Friday night when Carlos Quentin’s smash drilled him in the right thumb. The most pressing problem has been swelling in his hand and wrist.

“It’s going away,” Williams said. “Any time you get an extremity, it’s hard to get it out of there. You try to get it out of there as much as possible. A little wrist soreness. A little wrist swelling. It just pools right there. He’s a lot better today than he was yesterday.”

Rendon, who’s hitting .272 in his first full season, had blasted four homers in seven games before the injury sidelined him.

In other injury news, Stephen Strasburg said he had no lingering effects from the minor tightness he felt Monday night in his oblique. Strasburg pitched through three innings after he first felt it. Williams pulled him after 88 pitches once the Nationals opened an eight-run lead in the seventh inning. Both Strasburg and Williams said he could have kept pitching Monday night if the game had been closer.