Washington Nationals fans and players have been saying for years that Anthony Rendon should be an all-star. But after being selected for the first time Sunday, as a reserve for the National League, Rendon and the Nationals decided he won’t travel to Cleveland for the game next week.
The 29-year-old third baseman had quipped across the last month that he’d rather not play in the All Star Game. He enjoys his privacy and time with family. He regularly expresses that he prefers to not speak with reporters or about himself. But he insists these ailments are a legitimate reason to hang back from Cleveland, reinforcing that by staying here instead of traveling to his hometown of Houston like many expected. He has been replaced on the National League roster by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy.
“It’s kind of ironic, because I always joke with you guys saying I don’t want to go and just kind of give you guys a hard time,” Rendon said after going 0-for-5 in Friday’s loss. "But I am honored to be able to be chosen, especially being a player vote, that my peers have that respect for me and I appreciate it a lot.
"But since the game really doesn’t mean too much at the moment, except for personal reasons, we have bigger fish to fry here in D.C. So we’re trying to get everyone healthy and I’m a part of that as well, so I want to be a big threat for the second half.”
Rendon entered the weekend with a .310 batting average, 1.022 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 20 home runs, 21 doubles and 60 RBI in 72 games. That earned him an all-star selection alongside teammate Max Scherzer and the rest of baseball’s best players. He just won’t be making it because of nagging pain that’s slowed him on the base paths in recent weeks.
He has not considered sitting, saying he has learned how to deal with these types of injuries, but Martinez noted that it’s been a daily conversation. It may seem counter-intuitive for Rendon to need four days of mid-season rest and recovery, but also appear for two months without taking a day off. But Rendon and Martinez maintain that he’s both fine to play and shouldn’t push himself next week. When asked if there was a chance Rendon could go to Cleveland and not play, Martinez said that MLB made the decision to replace him with Muncy when the Nationals informed the league of their decision.
“It’s definitely feeling better. I mean, I can’t lie about that,” Rendon said. “But it’s definitely not over that hump, per se. And I know if I had these next four days, it would kind of get me there and I’d be running to first base. Put it that way. And I’d be running from first to home, and kind of being the player that I need to be.”
“We talked this out with him. He asked what we think and we told him ‘I think rest would be good for you,'" Martinez said. “He’s been playing with it for a couple weeks, and he agreed. It stinks, but he was very adamant about wanting to be ready to play after the all-star break for us. I think that’s a really great decision. I really do. I think he’s thinking about the team and the organization.”
Rendon expects to play the next two games against the Royals before the break, and then feel better for when the Nationals face the Philadelphia Phillies next weekend. He won’t be 100 percent — noting that that’s impossible this far into the schedule — but still wants to give his body some time to heal before Washington tries to parlay a pre-break surge into a pennant push.
The Nationals finished Friday seven games behind the Atlanta Braves in the division, and right in the thick of wild card contention.
“It may not be 100 percent, we always say that you’re only 100 percent in spring training and it’s just downhill from there,” Rendon said. “We’re just trying to get back to kind of even, I guess you could say, trying to feel good and trying to be a threat on both sides of the ball and that includes running the bases.”
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