Rendon returns to the minors, but does so with valuable new experience

PITTSBURGH - With Ryan Zimmerman ready to come off the disabled list today after missing the last 15 days with a hamstring strain, Anthony Rendon’s first taste of the major leagues has come to an end.

Rendon will return to Double-A Harrisburg’s roster today, going back to the long bus rides and cramped clubhouses that minor league ball offers. But he’ll go back with eight big league games and 30 plate appearances under his belt, and a sampling of what life is like on the big stage.

“It was awesome,” Rendon said yesterday. “I mean, it’s the highest level you can play. I really don’t think it can get much better than this.”

Given Rendon’s raw offensive talent and defensive abilities at multiple spots in the infield, it likely won’t be all that long before we see the 22-year-old back in the majors.

He hit .240 (6-for-25) in this stint with the Nats, with a double, an RBI, five walks and a .367 on-base percentage, and while he made three errors at third base, Rendon also flashed the arm and agility that have led scouts to consider him a “plus” defender.

“I think he’s handled himself well,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s had some quality at-bats. It’s not easy coming up here. It’s amazing how the opposition can have pitching reports and the guys up here are able to go after certain areas that you’re not really able to handle as well. They locate better here. But I think he’s made adjustments in the short time he’s been here. ... He’s done very well in the field and he’s had some awfully good at-bats. It’s not going to be long before he’s back here. He’s a good player.”

When he is back, Rendon won’t just have the stats to prove he’s already thrown on a big league uniform. He’ll also have the experiences, which should help make the transition back to the major league game a bit smoother.

“Oh, I think it’s gonna make a great difference, if I do happen to come back,” Rendon said. “Your comfortabiliy is going to be a lot higher now. The more things you do, the more ABs you get, the more times you play, obviously you get more comfortable at it. So I think it’s gonna help a lot.”

The biggest difference Rendon says he noticed at the big league level was the intelligence of the players. They’ll play a step over on a certain hitter, he says, or will take a little bit off a certain pitch to try and get a different result.

Now he’ll try and start making those adjustments himself, relying on his experiences in the big leagues to further improve his game and give himself a chance to stick at the major league level the next time he gets the opportunity.

“I’m confident in what I do, but obviously I haven’t experienced as much baseball as all these guys have,” Rendon said. “Obviously I’m gonna feel like, yeah I belong here, or yeah, I can play with these guys. But yeah, there probably is that mental step that I probably need to take. I need to take a step back ... and listen a little more and pay attention to the game. Why are people doing these things? Why are people playing here? Why do that do that instead of this? It’s just part of the game.

“That’s the weird thing about baseball - you never stop learning about it. I’m pretty sure a lot of these other guys can tell you, they’ve been playing so long and they’ll hear something that, hey, I never heard that before, that’s something new. You never stop learning in this game.”

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