Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon Off to Hot Spring Start

mweyrich
Mar 5, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (6) connects for a double against the Minnesota Twins at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (6) connects for a double against the Minnesota Twins at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Washington Nationals fell to the Minnesota Twins 4-2 Sunday afternoon, but third baseman Anthony Rendon hit a double and has been swinging the bat well in early Spring Training.

Last season, the offensive players on the Washington Nationals that found themselves in the spotlight the most often were Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos — and rightfully so. All three players made the NL All-Star Team and ranked the highest on the team in OPS among starting position players.

One player that was left on the outside looking in, despite his production, was third baseman Anthony Rendon. While he hit fifth in the lineup, Rendon was quietly productive all season. He hit .270/.348/.450 with 20 home runs and 91 runs scored in 156 games on his way to earning NL Comeback Player of the Year honors. So far this spring, he’s once again been one of the most consistent bats on the team.

After hitting a double in the team’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, Rendon is 5-for-13 (.385) with two doubles, a home run and a pair of runs scored in six games so far in Grapefruit League play. He has yet to strike out and appears poised for another big year in 2017.

Injuries cut Rendon’s 2015 season short, but he rebounded in a big way last year. If Spring Training numbers are any indication (take that with a grain of salt), he’s in good shape to continue making strides this season.

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Other takeaways from Sunday’s action:

Tanner Roark tossed four scoreless innings in his final start before the World Baseball Classic. He allowed just two hits while striking out three. Roark has yet to allow a run so far this spring, and will hope to carry over that success into the WBC. His next start will be against the Dominican Republic on March 11 at Marlins Park.

Shawn Kelley and Sammy Solis combined for four runs allowed, but Nats fans shouldn’t be worried about the state of the bullpen moving forward. It’s still early in the spring, meaning pitchers — relievers in particular — haven’t thrown many innings at game speed. Both relievers figure to play significant roles at the back end of the pen this season.

Next: When Will We See Scherzer?

Jayson Werth was penciled in at second in the Nats’ batting order. Manager Dusty Baker has said that he hasn’t set his Opening Day lineup just yet, and Sunday’s order will only add to the speculation. Many had assumed that Trea Turner and Adam Eaton would be hitting in the top two spots, but nothing appears to be certain so far.

Next up for the Washington Nationals will be a home game against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. Right-hander Joe Ross will be making his second start of the spring for the Nats after throwing two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut. Eduardo Rodriguez will take the mound for Boston.

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