Rendon could return Saturday, Kelley and Grace getting closer

Anthony Rendon is playing third base for the Potomac Nationals tonight. If all goes well, he'll be playing third base for the Washington Nationals tomorrow.

sidebar-Rendon-tags-home.jpgAfter taking five plate appearances as the designated hitter Thursday night in Woodbridge, Rendon is again in the P-Nats' lineup tonight, batting third and this time playing third base. Manager Davey Martinez said he will get three or four at-bats, and assuming there are no problems with his bruised left big toe, Rendon will "probably" be activated off the disabled list in time for tomorrow's game against the Phillies.

Rendon has been out three full weeks since fouling a ball off his toe, and the Nationals have sorely missed his bat (along with fellow injured regulars Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy). Martinez has been left to shake up his batting order, with Bryce Harper now batting leadoff and Matt Adams batting third. The first-year manager hasn't decided exactly where Rendon will bat upon his return, though he's clearly excited about the prospect.

"He's going to be somewhere probably up at the top," Martinez said. "We haven't really decided yet. ... The best thing about it is that I get to write his name back in the lineup."

The Nationals also are preparing to get Shawn Kelley and Matt Grace back in their bullpen, with each injured reliever making significant progress in recent days.

Kelley, who went on the DL with nerve irritation in his right elbow April 24 and is now eligible to return, pitched off a bullpen mound this afternoon for the third time. The veteran said his arm felt strong after a 36-pitch session, which will now allow him to make a rehab appearance for Potomac on Sunday.

Assuming that goes well, Kelley said he'll travel with the team to San Diego on Sunday evening and come off the DL a day or two later.

"My strength is good," he said. "My arm feels good. I think it was a freak thing that happened, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to bounce back so quick. I'll be fine. I'll test it out Sunday, just so we can check that off, that next step with hitters in the box and something on the line. But other than that, it's really to just check a box and then move on."

Grace, who went on the DL with a left groin strain on April 21, was cleared today to throw his first bullpen session and said he emerged feeling strong.

"I think it's progressing pretty quickly, to be honest," the left-hander said. "Faster than I thought it was going to be. All good right now."

Martinez said Grace will throw another bullpen session this weekend, then likely go on a brief rehab assignment.

"He'll probably end up throwing maybe a couple innings somewhere before we activate him," the manager said. "We want to make sure he's good."

Harper and Adams still launching homers (Nats win ...
Game 33 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to