After playing the first two months of the regular season without last year’s best player, the Washington Nationals activated infielder Anthony Rendon from the disabled list Thursday afternoon. Rendon is in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs, batting second and playing second base.
Rendon has been on the disabled list ever since he suffered a sprained MCL while diving for a ball at third base during Spring Training. The injury was originally believed to be very minor and he was expected to return within a few days. Of course, the knee injury turned out to be worse than the team had anticipated and Rendon was out for the first month of the regular season.
At the end of April, it looked like the infielder’s knee had recovered and he was ready to return to the big league lineup. But as he was rehabbing the knee, he suffered an oblique injury that stretched his stint on the DL even longer.
Now, however, Rendon is finally back and ready to help the team right away.
Rendon’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for the Nationals. After being the hottest team in baseball throughout the month of May, the Nationals’ offense has struggled mightily in recent days and the team has lost five of its last six games. While the Nationals are still in first place in the NL East, the team clearly needs a spark to get back to its winning ways. Based on what we saw from Rendon last season, he may very well be that spark.
Last year was Rendon’s first full season in the big leagues and the 24-year-old did not disappoint. He was one of the team’s most valuable players last season and played a key role in guiding the Nationals to their second NL East title, hitting .287 with 21 home runs and 83 RBIs in 153 games. Rendon was rewarded for his efforts with the NL Silver Slugger award at third base.
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Although Rendon is a third baseman by trade and played 134 games there last season, he will likely spend most of 2015 at second base. Yunel Escobar, whom the Nationals acquired to play second base, started the season at third and has played great defense there. Since Escobar appears more comfortable playing third and since second base will likely put less strain on Rendon’s knee, it looks like Rendon will be back at second base this season, where he played 82 games in 2013 and 28 last season.
In a corresponding roster move, the Nationals optioned infielder Wilmer Difo to Double-A Harrisburg. The 23-year-old Difo appeared in five games for the Nationals in his first big league stint, recording one hit in five plate appearances.
In an effort to bolster a taxed pitching staff, the Nationals also called up No. 2 prospect A.J. Cole. It’ll be Cole’s second major league stint of the season, after posting a 5.79 ERA in 9 1/3 innings earlier this year.
To make room for Cole, the Nationals optioned right-hander Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse. Jordan struggled in his second big league stint of the season, going 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA.