VIERA, Fla. - In Monday’s game against the Braves, Anthony Rendon dove to his left, making an incredible play to field a ground ball in the hole, jumped to his feet and fired to first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The result of the play was just another spring training out, albeit a spectacular one, but also a bruised left knee for Rendon.
He was originally scheduled to leadoff and play third base against the Tigers today, but Nationals manager Matt Williams scratched him from the lineup this morning due to some swelling in the knee.
“It’s just purely precautionary,” Williams said. “He worked through his day yesterday, but was a little bit sore. On the inside of his knee, he took a pretty hard dive out there in the infield, and the infields are hard. So no issue other than bruised. He’ll be good to go in a day or so.”
Kevin Frandsen will now start at third base today.
Expect Jordan Zimmermann to throw three innings or around 50 pitches for today’s game as the right-hander makes his second Grapefruit League start.
“Last time out, he was pretty efficient, so we’ll push him in that regard,” Williams said. “The ups are more important than the pitches thrown anyway. Makes sure he gets up and down three times.”
Nate McLouth will make his exhibition season debut at some point in today’s game as the designated hitter and Williams plans to start him in the same role tomorrow if all goes well. McLouth isn’t cleared to play in the field yet as he continues with a throwing program that’s part of his rehab from August shoulder surgery.
“It’s a fairly lengthy rehab, so next week we’ll look to get him in the game defensively,” Williams said. “He feels good about his swing right now. He’s excited.”
Some good news for Jayson Werth, as Williams said the veteran threw for the first time today since shoulder surgery. It will just be some light tossing along with more dry swings. The plan is for Werth to hopefully start a throwing program next week.
There’s no real progress to report for second baseman Yunel Escobar, who suffered a Grade 1 oblique strain last Wednesday. The original timetable was seven to 10 days of rest for Escobar. Williams provided an update this morning.
“(After rest), then we’ll progress to minimal activity and eventually get him back to out on the field, so timeframe-wise we just don’t know depending on how he comes out of the rest,” he said. “As of right now, it’s just kind of seeing where he’s at 10 days from now.”
The Tigers send former American League Cy Young Award winner David Price to the mound today. It’s certainly a chance for the Nats lineup to measure itself against last year’s major league leader in strikeouts early in the spring.
“He’s not afraid to throw the fastball over the plate, so he’ll be challenging guys today,” Williams said with excitement. “It’s a good test for us, he’s a good test for anybody - for us especially today, to get out there and see some really good fastballs and try to connect with one.”
Also, supermodel and actress Kate Upton is hosting the Grand Slam Adoption event at Space Coast Stadium before today’s game in support of adopting dogs. Upton, who was raised in Melbourne, Fla., near Viera, is romantically involved with Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.