The Nationals got the first of their injured regulars back in time for Saturday’s game, activating infielder Anthony Rendon off the 15-day disabled list and inserting him right back in their starting lineup.
Rendon, out since June 24 with a strained left quadriceps muscle, completed a 6-game rehab assignment with Class A Potomac and flew to Pittsburgh to rejoin the Nationals for Saturday night’s game against the Pirates. He’ll bat second and start at second base.
Rendon went 8-for-17 with two doubles and three walks while on rehab, having received at least three plate appearances each of the last four days.
Reliever Abel de los Santos, who made his major-league debut earlier this week, was optioned back to Class AA Harrisburg to clear a roster spot for Rendon.
It’s been a season of fits and starts for Rendon, coming off a breakthrough performance in 2014 that earned him fifth-place honors in NL MVP voting. He suffered a left knee sprain in spring training that lingered far beyond initially expected, then strained an oblique muscle while rehabbing from that injury. He finally made his season debut June 4 but lasted only 18 games before re-injuring himself.
Rendon was just starting to get hot before suffering the quad strain, with six hits over his final eight at-bats before going on the DL. Overall, he is batting .290 with a .375 on-base percentage and .737 OPS, still seeking his first homer of the season.
Rendon is the first of several key members of the Nationals lineup expected to return within the next week. Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) and Jayson Werth (fractured wrist) both remain on rehab for now, but each veteran is close to completing his assignment and should come off the DL soon.
Center fielder Denard Span (back spasms) is behind the others but is expected to resume baseball activities shortly. Yunel Escobar (sore left wrist) is back in the Nationals’ lineup Saturday night after missing the last two games.