Rendon unlikely to return until Tuesday at earliest (Nats win 3-1)

Anthony Rendon wasn't activated off the disabled list today even though he was eligible, but the Nationals third baseman appears to be close to returning from a bruised left big toe.

Rendon hit, ran and took grounders this morning with no issues, manager Davey Martinez said. The Nationals weren't prepared to activate him off the 10-day DL yet, and Martinez said the move probably won't be made Monday, either, though it won't be much longer.

"I'd probably say no (to being active Monday), but we'll see how he comes in," the manager said. "He's starting to do a lot. Yesterday I know he took a lot of swings in the cage as well. He's starting to do a lot more stuff. He's very close."

Anthony-Rendon-swing-white-sidebar.jpgIt's been a full 16 days now since Rendon fouled a ball off his left big toe, an injury he and the Nationals initially expected to linger for only a couple of days. After waiting a full week with him still on the active, though, they finally placed him on the 10-day DL last Sunday in Los Angeles. Because DL moves may only be backdated three days, the Nationals were left needing to wait at least one more week before getting Rendon back.

After taking a few days off upon his placement on the DL, Rendon has gotten back to work this weekend. The Nationals have been pleased by what they've seen from him since.

"He ran a little bit, yeah," Martinez said. "And the encouraging thing is he looked good fielding ground balls today, which is good. Going laterally, which was a concern, he was pretty good."

Given the fact he's missed more than two weeks now, the Nationals have to consider whether Rendon will need a brief rehab assignment before he returns to the lineup.

"We haven't decided that yet," Martinez said. "He wants to play play. But we'll have to reevaluate once I talk to (director of athletic training Paul Lessard) today after the game and see where we're at."

Update: The Nationals are going to get a chance to face a whole bunch of Diamondbacks relievers today after starter Robbie Ray departed in the bottom of the second with a strained right oblique. They pounced on T.J. McFarland after the pitching change, getting a solo homer from Matt Wieters and then another run after McFarland couldn't handle Ryan Zimmerman's comebacker with the bases loaded. But after Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, it still felt like a missed opportunity. There are several reasons for the Nats' 11-16 record to start the season, but an inability to tack on runs when they've had a chance to deliver an early kill shot has been a factor several times already. They lead 2-0 after two today, but it could've been much more.

Update II: Make it 3-0 Nats in the fifth, thanks to a moonshot into the left field bullpen by Michael A. Taylor, his third homer of the season. Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, is getting stronger as his afternoon progresses. He just struck out the side in the top of the fifth, giving him seven for the day and leaving him at 84 pitches through five scoreless frames.

Update III: Gonzalez delivered a big-time start when the Nats needed it. He gave up a run in the seventh, but that was it, finishing at 114 pitches and perhaps earning his manager's trust six days after he complained about not having it. The Nats take a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh and will try to get six outs from their bullpen to close this one out.

Update IV: That'll do it. Behind scoreless innings of relief from Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle, the Nationals hung on to win 3-1 and avoid a weekend sweep. At 12-16, they've still got a lot of work ahead of them, but this was a nice win to get them out of this series and send them into an upcoming four-game tilt with the Pirates.

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