Nationals' top prospect Anthony Rendon is excited to make his home debut tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. The former Rice star was eager to get back on the field after his first game in New York on Sunday.
Rendon went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and made a catch error at third base. Today, he returns to the starting lineup, batting sixth and at third base.
"It was good," Rendon said. "Good to get the first one out of the way. I don't think you can do any worse. You can't go negative in the batting average, so that is a good thing, It is all the way up. I felt pretty confident up there. I was relaxed, just try to take a deep breath. Take it like every other game."
Rendon said, as expected, it has been a whirlwind 48 hours since Double-A Harrisburg manager Matt Lecroy brought him to his office to break the news that he had been called to the bigs.
"It is going pretty fast," Rendon said. "I didn't get much sleep that first night. That happens to everybody. I got a good night's sleep last night, I feel like today is going to be a better day. This is pretty unreal. This is the things you dream about as a kid. It is a dream come true to get this far."
And Rendon said getting a chance to start again tonight will help him get into a nice groove.
"The more at-bats you get, the more comfortable you are going to feel," Rendon said. "That is just the way baseball is. It is all about repetition."
Rendon's mom, dad, brother, girlfriend and another friend will be in attendance tonight against the Cardinals. Being in Nationals Park for the first time before getting a chance to play in a major league game will be a different feeling.
"Obviously, you are going to have extra nerves your first big league game," Rendon said. "There are 30,000 fans in the stands rather than (smaller crowds) you have been playing in front of down in the minor leagues. It is good. You try not to take the game out of context."
And getting to catch a foul ball early at Citi Field Sunday helped Rendon calm down a bit.
"I am sure there are a lot of nerves, but he is a talented player," said catcher Kurt Suzuki. "He looks like he is having fun. Of course, the second hitter of the game the ball finds him, of course. He is definitely fun to watch."
Rendon said his experience of being able to play alongside his teammates during the last two spring trainings helped him hit the ground running this time. Right fielder Jayson Werth made Rendon feel like part of the team with a bit of hazing on the youngster's first flight back to D.C., telling the former college player of the year to carry his bag onto the charter.
"I think it helps out a lot, being fortunate enough to be in big league spring training," Rendon said. "Knowing that I have seen him before, or I have talked to him. It is not like showing up and not knowing what to say to that guy, or not knowing how he would react. It is a good comfort level."
And the young prospect also knows that this first trip to the majors might be a short one, with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman recovering from a hamstring injury.
"I am just taking it one day at a time. They called me up here. I am just going to play whereever they tell me to play. I am going to try not to worry about it."
Sounds like the response of grizzled vet. Rendon will fit in quite nicely.