Rendon unfazed by quick ramp-up to season

Manager Joe Maddon praises third baseman's consistency

July 9th, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Following the birth of his second child with his wife, Amanda, in February, Angels third baseman joked that he spent most of his time during quarantine changing diapers.

Rendon cherished his time with his family with the baseball season pushed back roughly four months, and said he didn’t have much time for baseball activities to stay ready for the season. But Rendon, who signed a seven-year deal with the Angels in the offseason, believes he’ll be able to flip the switch by the time the season begins on July 24 in Oakland.

“I think as we get older, we know what we need to do to prepare ourselves for a game as men, as professionals,” Rendon said via Zoom on Thursday. “I think there is kind of a little bit of a light-switch deal where we know that we've got to go right now. We can kind of turn it on and say we need to get down to business and I need to bear down because the real deal is about to happen. If the season started today, I think a lot of the guys, including myself, would be ready and can actually perform out there and feel comfortable."

Angels manager Joe Maddon also isn’t worried about Rendon having enough time to get ready for the season because of Rendon’s demeanor and track record of success. Rendon isn’t one to get amped up on the field and Maddon doesn’t expect that to change, either.

“When you’re watching him practice, that’s what he looks like in game,” Maddon said. “He doesn’t muscle up or tense up or try to do more. He plays that same game, and that’s the beauty of it.”

Rendon, 30, is coming off the best season of his seven-year career, hitting .319/.412/.598 with 34 homers, 44 doubles and 126 RBIs in 146 games with the Nationals. He followed that up with an epic postseason that saw him bat .328/.413/.590 with three homers, seven doubles and 15 RBIs in 17 games en route to leading the Nationals to their first-ever World Series title.

Rendon received his World Series ring on Thursday. One of his biggest attributes is his ability to lock out distractions and come through in big moments, so he’s not sure how different it will be this year with no fans in the stands.

“If you have more people in the stands and they're egging you on, whether they're cheering for you or against you, that'll get your heart rate up, or, you know, either get you excited or get you more motivated,” Rendon said. “But I think for me, I just try to keep it as simple as possible. I try to catch the ball. I try to throw it. I try to see the ball and I try to put the barrel on it. Hopefully it doesn't have any impact on me, but I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.”

Rendon said the key to this season is being diligent with the health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. Rendon said no one in his family has any high-risk health issues, but it’s still important to be safe for the sake of others. Notably, Angels superstar Mike Trout’s wife, Jessica, is pregnant, and Maddon is 66 years old.

“We've still got to be aware of coming into the clubhouse because not everyone's families are like that,” Rendon said. "We have a lot of high-risk people that are on staff. We have a lot of players that have family members at home that are high risk. So we have to wear our masks just to protect other people. At this time, we have to be selfless toward everyone around us because we don't know what everyone's situation is. And I think this is a good opportunity for us as a world to realize that selfishness doesn't go a long way, so we have to look out for one another.”