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Rendon activated off DL, in Nats lineup tonight

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Rendon activated off DL, in Nats lineup tonight

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.

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Don't worry about the week off, Nats fans. Joe Girardi said it was 'the most enjoyable week' of his baseball career

Don't worry about the week off, Nats fans. Joe Girardi said it was 'the most enjoyable week' of his baseball career

After sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games, the Washington Nationals are headed to their first World Series ever. 

While they await their opponent following the best of seven ALCS series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, they have plenty of time to rest, causing worry for many Nats fans who believe the extra time off will disrupt their momentum. However, baseball great Joe Girardi said his week off before the 1996 Yankees World Series (which they went on to win) was "the most enjoyable week of my baseball career," Girardi said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday.

"You got a chance to relax, you got a chance to enjoy what you were preparing for, and you get a long time to think about, 'man, we're going to the World Series!'"

However, the Yankees did drop their first game of the series to the Atlanta Braves 12-1, and were shut out the second 4-0, so arguments could be made that the extra rest may have hurt their momentum. But the Yanks went on to win four in a row to win the World Series in six games, so they were able to turn it around. Girardi thinks the Nats could thrive from the extra rest.

"I think you worry about your team coming out a little flat and losing momentum, but I think you have the right personality in that clubhouse," Girardi said. "Think about how bad they were struggling and Davey [Martinez] kept it together."

Girardi added that he's a huge fan of hitting coach Kevin Long, former Yankees' hitting coach during part of Girardi's managerial career with the team. 

"You have Kevin Long, and he won't let anyone, *anyone* get complacent," Girardi said. "He will keep the boys fired up, let me tell ya. He will needle them, he will do whatever it takes to keep that edge up."

So, Nats fans. The only reason to despair is that we'll have to wait a week to watch our team play in the World Series. As someone who's been there, Girardi says they will be just fine.

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Don't underrate the 86 years D.C. waited to return to the World Series

Don't underrate the 86 years D.C. waited to return to the World Series

WASHINGTON -- High atop the scoreboard in right field at Nationals Park are four white pennant flags, three of which read '1924,' '1925' and '1933.' The fourth is blank and for a reason.

Though Nationals Park opened in 2008, that flag represents a wait of 86 years, a wait that ended on Tuesday night as the Nats swept the Cardinals in the NLCS to become the first D.C. baseball team to reach the World Series since 1933. Someday soon a brave soul will make the journey all the way up there, a hundred feet in the air, to replace it with a pennant that says '2019.'

The Nationals still have four wins to go to capture baseball's ultimate prize, but by reaching the World Series they have already given the city of Washington something it has not experienced for the better part of a century.

In order to remember the last time the Nats were in the Fall Classic, you would have to be in your 90s. Surely, there are some Nationals fans out there who can recall those days. But for the vast majority of Washingtonians witnessing this magical postseason run, it is something entirely unfamiliar.

Some Nationals players were shocked simply to hear how long it's been after they ended the drought on Tuesday night.

"That's crazy. It still hasn't totally sunk in yet," reliever Sean Doolittle said. "I'm rarely speechless."

"Welcome back," outfielder Adam Eaton said, speaking to Nats fans. "It's taken a long time."

People from the D.C. area who have been around long enough can speak to how the city has changed; from the turbulent 1960s to the turbulent 1980s, to how neighborhoods like Chinatown have completely transformed, to how the nearby suburbs of Northern Virginia were rural countryside not long ago.

Back in 1933, there was no Jefferson Memorial. Construction started in 1939, the same year World War II began. The White House didn't have an East Wing. That came in 1942.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inauguration was in 1933. He threw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series that year when the Senators fell in five games to the New York Giants.

Back then, the Senators played at Griffith Stadium in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington. Nowadays, Howard University Hospital stands in its place.

Eighty six years is long enough that every member of that 1933 Senators team has since passed. The last one to go was utilityman Cecil Travis, who died at the age of 93 back in 2006, 13 years ago.

That 1933 team had Hall of Fame players like Goose Goslin and Sam Rice. It had some Hall of Fame names as well like General Crowder and Heinie Manush.

Back then, baseball was different. Their home run leader, Joe Kuhel, only hit 11 bombs. Meanwhile, their pitching wins leader, Crowder, won 24 games, lost 15 and logged 299 1/3 innings.

Most of us alive today really have no clue what life was like back then. But Nationals owner Ted Lerner does. Tuesday happened to be his 94th birthday and he had a good time celebrating it. Lerner stood on the stage in the middle of the field as his team was presented the NL championship trophy and issued a message to the crowd.

"I want to tell our fans; this is for you," he said.

Lerner knows how long this moment was in the making for Washington, D.C., though a lot of people outside of town may underrate what the city has been through. Many view the Nationals as the franchise that moved from Montreal, the team that has only existed in its current form since 2005. But Washington as a city has waited much longer than 14 years to play in the World Series.

D.C. may have not had a major league team from 1971, when the Senators left to become the Texas Rangers, until 2005, but eighty six years is eighty six years. That's exactly how long the Curse of the Bambino lasted in Boston. The Red Sox broke their World Series-winning drought in 2004, but they had at least been there four times in that span. They also lost in the ALCS another four times. As Nats fans now know, just getting that far is plenty of fun.

Plus, baseball isn't really about the big things, it's about the little things and you don't get those when you don't have a team. You don't get to enjoy Opening Days and walk-off wins and young players developing into stars before your eyes. You don't get hot dogs and cold beers in the sun on a June afternoon.

Washington missed that for decades and they have missed going to the World Series for a lot longer than most of their fans have been alive. As bottles pop around the region, here's to a city that has waited patiently for a very long time to get back to this point.

"This fanbase has been starving for a winner," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "They deserve it."

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