If the Nationals had played Friday’s scheduled exhibition against the Red Sox, they would’ve fielded their exact projected starting lineup for the regular season, with one exception: third base. Instead of Anthony Rendon slotted there, Grant Green, who isn’t making the Opening Day roster, was penciled in Rendon’s place and batting eighth because Rendon is still dealing with a bruised calf.
Manager Dusty Baker had hoped Rendon, who missed Washington’s final three Grapefruit League games after fouling a ball off the calf, would be available Friday. But Rendon didn’t progress as anticipated and Baker said he isn’t sure if Rendon will be ready for Opening Day.
“He’s doing so-so,” Baker said.
Rendon was in a similar situation two years ago and it resulted in disaster. After injuring his knee in spring training, he strained an oblique during his rehabilitation assignment and never regained his 2014 form, batting .264 with a .707 OPS in 80 games.
When asked what Rendon has been able to do, baseball-wise, in recent days, Baker said “not much.” He wouldn’t divulge many details about the nature of the injury.
“I can’t tell you what,” Baker said. “The opposition doesn’t need to [know]. This ain’t football.”
Here’s the lineup Baker filled out Friday:
Nothing should be made of Daniel Murphy batting second because Baker has said he wants the second baseman to accumulate as many at-bats as possible before the regular season following an unusual spring training. Murphy’s game action was limited in Florida because he barely played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and then he was sick earlier this week.
Baker spoke before Friday’s game was canceled, but said any weekend rainouts wouldn’t affect rotation so Max Scherzer is still slated to pitch in Saturday’s exhibition against the Red Sox at the Naval Academy.
— The Nationals have found a replacement for President Trump. The organization announced Friday that five service members, one from each of the U.S. military branches, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. In keeping with tradition, the Nationals first invited President Trump, but he declined Tuesday, citing a scheduling conflict.
The club also announced the center field gate at Nationals Park will open two hours before the scheduled first pitch on gamedays this season, as opposed to the two-and-a-half hours in previous years. The center field gate will open at 11 a.m. for Monday’s opener.
— Clint Robinson, placed on waivers Tuesday, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Class AAA Syracuse, the Nationals announced Friday. The 32-year-old Robinson was a mainstay on Washingon’s bench the past two seasons, but the club signed Adam Lind to a major league contract become the primary backup first baseman in February. The addition rendered Robinson’s removal inevitable.
Robinson clearing waivers vacates a valuable spot on the Nationals’ 40-man roster. As of Friday afternoon, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was the only remaining player in Nationals camp not on the 40-man roster.