Nats top prospect Rendon makes big league debut
Third baseman makes nice defensive play, goes 0-for-4 with two strikeouts vs. Mets
NEW YORK -- Nationals third baseman and top prospect Anthony Rendon arrived at Citi Field at 9:50 a.m. ET on Sunday, and manager Davey Johnson immediately placed Rendon sixth in the starting lineup against the Mets. The Nationals called up Rendon from Double-A Harrisburg after placing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list.
"We get a guy who is a natural third baseman, who will defend," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He had a good Spring Training and is having a good start to the season. It will be a chance to perform at the big league level. We'll evaluate [him] at the big league level, and Davey is never afraid to give a young player a chance and to play him. He has never been afraid to do that. As an organization, we have never been afraid to do that.
"Rendon is a guy who we think is going to be a long-term part of the organization. We thought it was a good time until Zim gets back full-time. Plus, it also strengthens our bench by not having Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi platooning out there."
Rendon played in 14 games for the Senators this year and hit .292 with two home runs, seven RBIs and a .462 on-base percentage.
The 22-year-old went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 2-0 loss to the Mets, but he made a slick catch near the dugout railing in the first inning for his first Major League putout.
"He is a natural baseball player," first-base coach Tony Tarasco said. "His swing is easy. His attitude is mellow and even. First appearances are quite deceiving. When you look at him, it's not like he is 6-foot-5, 245 [pounds]. The guy is 5-foot-11, 185, 190, and the ball jumps off his bat like he is 6-foot-5, 245. He has a sweet swing. He makes adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He is a natural out on the field. He has a great glove. It comes effortless for him."
Asked if he was ready to play in the big leagues, Rendon said, "There is only one way to find out and that's to be here. I'm pretty confident, I'm a confident person -- at least I try to be. I try to do the best I can in everything I do, so we'll see how it plays out."
Rendon found out he was going to the big leagues Saturday from Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy. At first, Rendon couldn't believe it. He thought he was going to be scolded by the skipper.
"It's like everybody else. Are you serious? You are not going to believe it at the time, obviously," Rendon said. "Then it finally sets in. It's pretty exciting. ... It's early in the season. I wasn't expecting it. But everything happens for a reason. ... So, I'll take it from here."
It finally settled in that Rendon was in the big leagues once he arrive at Citi Field. He shared a cab ride with Chad Tracy and was amazed at the New York scenery.
"We were in a cab ride over here and I said, 'Dang, this is really happening.' It finally settled in," Rendon said. "I was trying to take in the view. Being in New York, I was trying the sightseeing and looking out the window."
Redon's parents, Rene and Bridget, weren't able to make the trip to New York because of a flight mixup, but they will be able to see their son play in Washington, D.C., where the Nationals play the Cardinals starting Monday night.
"They booked their flights, they had the flight information," Rendon said. "They show up to the airport and they are not in the system, but they will be in D.C., though."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.