Anthony Rendon won’t have to worry about switching between positions in spring training. No more grounders at third base, followed by intensive footwork sessions at second, then back to the hot corner. He goes into camp at the incumbent second baseman and thinks that comfort level will be a plus.
“I think that will help me tremendously,” he said at NatsFest. “I think that will be a positive that I can stay in one area, continue to work on my footwork, continue to learn the position as much as I can and keep growing.”
Rendon thinks he’s learned a lot in a short time, and is ready to claim the position as his own. But he’s emphatic that his education is not yet complete.
“I think I’ve come pretty far, but baseball is a tricky game,” Rendon said. “You never stop learning in this game. You could be a 15- or 20-year veteran and you could learn something the next day. That’s how crazy this game is. So I’m just ready to learn.”
Rendon said he made his most progress in 2013 with his positioning, no small achievement for a guy who was primarily a third baseman in college. First baseman Adam LaRoche helped him a lot, discussing during games how the pair would patrol the right side of the infield in different situations.
“That’s always the biggest key: Getting in the right position to make the best play or make the play, actually, especially coming from the left side,” Rendon said. “You go over to the right side and you’re like, ‘Where do I go?’ But I had great teachers and great teammates who helped me out the whole year.”
A lot goes in to where a second baseman positions himself - the pitcher on the mound, what he’s throwing, the hitter’s tendencies, the field itself. That’s where LaRoche’s instruction came into play.
But Rendon’s footwork remains a work in progress. Rendon won’t have the benefit of a former All-Star second baseman in former manager Davey Johnson this spring, so he’s been spending the offseason concentrating on movement and how he turns double plays.
“Being comfortable around the base,” he said.
One lesson from Johnson that Rendon will continue is how to transition his weight to take some of the pressure off his throwing arm.
“Fall forward, towards first base - rely on my legs and not so much on my arm,” Rendon explained.
One thing he won’t have to learn is how new Nationals skipper Matt Williams functions as a manager. Two winters ago, Rendon played for the Arizona Fall League’s Salt River Rafters, with Williams at the helm.
“I like that he brings a little fire,” Rendon said of Williams. “I guess in the fall league, we were slacking - it was the end of the year and we’d played a lot of baseball. He’s got that moment where he’ll get into you. He’ll lay into you a little bit, he’ll get that fire.”