Anthony Rendon has played once in the last nine days, leaving the Nationals a man short on their active roster. But if you assumed that would’ve convinced the team to place its star third baseman on the injured list by now, you’d be wrong.
Though his bruised left elbow continues to prevent him from fully extending when he swings, Rendon believes he’s only a day or two away from returning to action. So the Nationals continue to put off an IL move, not wanting to risk losing him for even more time if he indeed proves ready to play in a matter of days.
“Trust me, we can’t wait until he gets back,” manager Davey Martinez said. “But we want him back. I don’t want to put him in a game, and then all of a sudden the next day his elbow swells up worse.”
Rendon was struck by a pitch April 20 in Miami. He missed the Nationals’ next four games, then returned to play Friday against the Padres, going 0-for-3 with another hit-by-pitch. Then he was out of the lineup Saturday and Sunday and again tonight for their series opener against the Cardinals.
Had the Nationals placed Rendon on the 10-day IL by April 24, backdating the transaction the maximum three days allowed, he would’ve been eligible to return this Wednesday. Now, even if they make the move Tuesday, it’ll be another week (May 7) before he’s eligible to return.
Why didn’t they make the move? Because an MRI of Rendon’s elbow taken Sunday revealed only a contusion, nothing structurally injured. So the belief has been he could be available to play at any point.
“He says it’ll be sooner than later,” Martinez said. “When you miss a guy like Anthony in the lineup, hopefully he wakes up tomorrow and the swelling’s better and we get him going.”
If this whole scenario sounds familiar, it is. On April 14, 2018, Rendon fouled a ball off his left foot. He was slow to heal, but the Nationals kept him on the active roster, believing he was close to rejoining the team. After eight days, they finally placed him on the disabled list. By the time he was eligible to return, he had missed three weeks.
Speaking of familiar injuries, Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the IL over the weekend with plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition that sidelined him nearly seven weeks in 2015. That previous injury was to Zimmerman’s left foot; this one is to his right foot.
Speaking today for the first time since going on the IL, Zimmerman said he had been dealing with this condition for “a couple weeks,” but it got worse when he had to make a leaping catch of Howie Kendrick’s high throw Tuesday night in Colorado. He sat out the following day’s game, then rested during the Nationals’ off-day, but returned to play Friday and Saturday against the Padres before he realized he couldn’t continue.
“It just got to the point where it wasn’t rebounding as quick as it was before,” he said. “And we realized for five months we weren’t going to be able to do this. So take some time off, get it right and hopefully we think we caught it early enough where it won’t take that long.”
Zimmerman said he doesn’t think this bout of plantar fasciitis is as bad as the 2015 case was, but he won’t know for sure until he takes a week to rest and get treatment.
At this early stage of the season, he believes this is the right course of action.
“If it was September, it’d be a different story,” he said. “We could maybe take some medicine, do something. But to do that for five months is not sustainable.”