CHICAGO - Anthony Rendon is out of the Nationals lineup for the second straight day, but manager Davey Martinez expressed some level of confidence his starting third baseman won’t need to miss a third straight game.
Rendon, who was hit by a pitch on his left hand in the first inning Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, is available to come off the bench for tonight’s series finale against the Cubs. That would most likely be if the Nats needed him in the field, though, not as likely if he was needed to hit.
“We’ll see if we need him,” Martinez said. “He’s definitely available if we need him to play defense. But he’s going to (go to the batting cage), take some swings and see how he feels if we need him for an at-bat. Hopefully, we don’t need him.”
Rendon finished out Friday’s game after getting hit by the pitch in the top of the first, getting three more at-bats. He had an X-ray taken of his hand after the game, which showed no fractures, so the Nationals announced his injury as a left wrist contusion.
Though he didn’t play Saturday, Rendon did try to take some swings. His wrist was “sore,” according to Martinez.
Rendon passed through the clubhouse today for only a few seconds while reporters were present, so he has not yet spoken publicly about his injury.
The ailment appears to be a problem only when swinging, not fielding. To be even more specific, only when he doesn’t connect with a pitch.
“He said when he swung and missed is when he felt it,” Martinez said. “That’s what he fears. I talked to him this morning, and he just said: ‘I don’t want to swing and miss and, all of a sudden it’s aggravating me and I’ve got three more at-bats.’”
Martinez told his third baseman: “OK, just be available off the bench, and we’ll go from there.”
Asked if he’s confident Rendon will be in Monday night’s lineup in St. Louis, Martinez replied: “I’m hoping that tomorrow he’ll be ready to go.”
The news is more encouraging on Sean Doolittle, who threw off flat ground today and also practiced a throwing motion off a mound without a ball in his hand to test his healing left foot. He’s now expecting to actually pitch off a mound in the next day or two.
“It’s progress,” the closer said. “I know it’s baby steps, but it’s progress.”
Doolittle, who has now missed five weeks with a stress reaction in his foot, admitted he still feels some discomfort when he throws. But he’s encouraged that the pain doesn’t linger, and he’s been told he’s not in danger of further injuring himself with his activities.
“You’re getting to that point where you know you’re gonna feel it, but that’s OK. You’re not going to make it worse,” he said. “Even if it’s really sore afterwards, I’ve had days where the next day it bounces back and it feels good. So I’m building trust in it, kind of understanding pain threshold.”
Doolittle believes that once he crosses this final hurdle and throws off a mound without problems, the remainder of his rehab will be quick.
“I do,” he said. “Because I’ve been throwing. And we’ve been doing some running stuff. If it’s going to be good enough to push off a mound, then it’s going to be good enough to do everything else I have to do.”