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Rendon glad to be back after long and unusual injury rehab

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Rendon glad to be back after long and unusual injury rehab

[Updated 5:18 p.m.]

Anthony Rendon's long, once-interrupted rehab from a pair of injuries has finally ended. The Nationals have activated the 24-year-old infielder off the disabled list, and he will make his 2015 debut Thursday night against the Cubs. 

Rendon will bat second in the Nationals' lineup.

"I had a frustrating few months, but I'm happy to be back," he said.

On the heels of a breakthrough 2014 season in which he finished fifth in NL MVP voting, Rendon's 2015 debut comes two months late. He was sidelined first by a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury that appeared minor when it occurred in early March but proved far more significant than the club originally believed. Then, while nearly finished with a rehab assignment in Harrisburg in late-April, Rendon strained his left oblique muscle, once again delaying his return.

Rendon began a new rehab assignment with Harrisburg last week and played in five games, going 4-for-18 with two doubles and a walk.

"I think we all were [surprised it took so long]. It just happened to be an unfortunate event at the beginning of the season. What can you do?" he said. "There was a little frustration, but everything happens for a reason. I've been put in this position and I just have to go forward from here."

Every inning Rendon spent in the field during this latest rehab stint came at second base, and that's where he will make his season debut Thursday, with Yunel Escobar remaining at third base. That's the opposite of the Nationals' original plan entering spring training, but with Escobar proving adept and more comfortable at third base through the season's first two months, and with Rendon having already proven his ability to play second base, that alignment is likely to become regular for now.

Rendon insists he has no real preference for either position.

"I feel fine. I've always told you I feel most comfortable with a bat in my hand. As long as I'm out here to help the team," he said.

Rendon is still working on his timing both in the field and at the plate. He does, however, have plenty of experience with injuries dating back to his days at Rice University.

"I think fortunately and unfortunately I've been through this situation before, so I know how to handle it. I guess I've done pretty well in the past with handling injuries. I think I handled it pretty well this time around, too. I'm just happy to be back."

Rendon is not exactly sure when the injury first occurred. He was rehabbing from the knee injury when discomfort in his left oblique gradually began to bother him.

When asked how he sustained the injury, he couldn't cite a specific swing or play: "I think just hitting too many homers. What kind of question is that? I don't know. It just happened."

The 2014 Silver Slugger is just glad the injury is behind him. Now comes the adjustment of trying to help a lineup that has mustered just seven total runs in their last four games.

"You can't expect him to be the catalyst for anything right now, but we're glad to have him back," Matt Williams said. "The fact that he's physically able to play is important to us, and important to him as well. So he feels good. He's got some at-bats. Not ideal amount of at-bats, but nonetheless he's, like we said yesterday, he's a pretty quick study. So we're glad to have him."

Rendon's reinstatement from the 15-day DL was one of a flurry of roster moves the Nationals made Thursday afternoon. Right-hander A.J. Cole was recalled from Class AAA Syracuse, with a chance to start Saturday afternoon's game, while two young players were optioned to the minors: Taylor Jordan (to Syracuse) and Wilmer Difo (to Class AA Harrisburg).

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.

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