Anthony Rendon heating up for stretch run

A large part of the expectations heaped on the Nationals this year had to do with Anthony Rendon. The 25-year-old was coming off a breakthrough season, leading the National League in runs scored (111), while slashing .287/.351/.473 with a .824 OPS. In just his second year in the big leagues, he finished fifth in the NL MVP voting.

But his promising season was derailed before it even got started. Rendon sprained his left MCL making a spectacular diving stop on a grounder in his second Grapefruit League game. The injury shelved the young star for the next two months. Seemingly nearing a return to the Nats, Rendon then strained his left oblique in late April.

rendon-smile-big-white-close-sidebar.jpgAfter missing the first 53 games, Rendon finally made his season debut on June 4, collecting a single in his first at-bat and drilling a double later in the game. Rendon batted .290 with five doubles and five RBIs in his first 18 games, but then suffered another setback, straining his left quad.

The Nationals finally got Rendon back on July 25, but it's taken a while for the third-year star to regain his timing at the plate.

"It's tough when you don't have spring training," said Jayson Werth after dealing with two separate injuries this year. "It's tough when you're out and then you get a short rehab assignment and then you basically go through spring training up here. I've done it twice now this season. It's not surprising. Very few times you see guys with very little at-bats produce. It's just tough. Nowadays though, it's even harder because everyone is throwing so hard. You can't replicate the velocity in the minor leagues.

"But, I mean, he's Tony Rendon. He's one of the guys. Everybody believes in him. We know the type of player he is. He showed it last year. It's just a matter of time before he breaks out."

Since returning July 25, Rendon was batting just .200 over 23 games heading into Saturday, but over the past two, he belted two homers with a double, five RBIs, four walks and three runs scored.

"I didn't change a thing," Rendon said. "That's the funny part. If I knew what to change, I probably wouldn't have been in that position. It's actually weird. I've felt the same since I came back.

"Everyone goes through those stretches. Everyone you talk to in this game, old coaches, old teammates, old players ... they all have those 'Oh, I was 0-for-25," "I was 0-for-30 one time." I just try to not to get it that far, get it to that point and take it one at-bat at a time."

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