Anthony Rendon tested by “brutal” season

Anthony Rendon’s season was filled with inconsistencies. Injuries interrupted his year three different times beginning early in spring training. When Rendon did play, he was shifted back and forth from second base to third base, and shuffled all over the lineup.

“It was brutal,” Rendon said. “It was rough. They always say baseball is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical - whatever that saying is. I don’t even think I know it. But this game is already a game of failure. Going into it not feeling good, battling whatever injuries, tests you even more.”

Rendon-After-Strikeout-Sidebar.jpgRendon slashed .287/.351/.473 with 21 homers, 83 RBIs and a league-leading 111 runs scored in 2014. The breakout season resulted in Silver Slugger Award and a fifth-place finish in the National League Most Valuable Player vote.

But Rendon managed to play in only 80 games this year. A sprained left MCL suffered in just his second Grapefruit League contest forced Rendon to miss opening day. Then a strained left oblique delayed his season debut until June 4. Just as he was regaining his timing, a strained left quad sent him back to the DL for another month starting June 25.

Rendon ended up hitting .264/.344/.363 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. He batted just 9-for-58 (.155) over his last 15 games.

“It could’ve been better, it could’ve been worse,” Rendon said. “It is how it is. Everything happens for a reason. I give y’all the same answers all the time, but that’s how it is. Sometimes you’re not the healthiest, sometimes you’re not gonna have the best years, sometimes you’re gonna be great.”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo traded for veteran infielder Yunel Escobar last January to fill a need at second base allowing Rendon to take over third. But Escobar felt more comfortable at third and the Nats needed him there anyway while Rendon was out.

So Rendon ended up making 59 starts at second base and 19 at third base. Questioned whether it’s important for him to appear exclusively at third in 2016, Rendon simply answered, “I just wanna play.”

With Ian Desmond most likely lost to free agency, Escobar could move to shortstop, the position he played primarily in his nine-year career.

“I’m gonna count on Rendon,” Rizzo said, looking forward to next season. “He’s (25) years old. He’s fifth in the MVP voting in 2014. He’s a great player. He’s a guy you have to count on.”

A healthy Rendon is obviously key to the flow of the Nationals lineup in 2016.

“I’m not gonna change anything. Go back in the offseason, do the same stuff I always do,” Rendon said. “Come the spring, have my same routine and take it from there.”

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