WASHINGTON -- As his teammates were preparing for batting practice at Nationals Park, Anthony Rendon was headed for the door, about to make the drive to Woodbridge, Va., for what could be his final Minor League rehab game.
Rendon batted third and played third base for Class A Advanced Potomac on Friday night. He finished 3-for-4 with a run scored. If all goes well, the Nationals plan to activate him from the disabled list on Saturday.
"He's very important to our team, and he'll be a good mix in the middle of our lineup," manager Dave Martinez said. "Looking forward to getting him back. We want to make sure we get him back and he's fully ready and ready to go."
Rendon went 2-for-4 with a double and walk while serving as the designated hitter for Potomac on Thursday night, his first game action since he fouled a ball off his left foot on April 13. He has been on the disabled list with a left big toe contusion since April 22.
Washington has missed his presence in the lineup. The team had been struggling to score runs consistently before Martinez shook up the lineup this past week by batting Bryce Harper leadoff. Martinez was not ready to reveal where Rendon would slot into this new-look lineup, but he was looking forward to be able to having him healthy again.
"It'll be nice to write his name in the lineup," Martinez said.
Kelley to begin rehab assignment, Grace throws in bullpen
The Nationals' bullpen could be getting some new life soon with two of their relievers making significant progress toward a return from the disabled list.
Shawn Kelley threw another bullpen session prior to Friday's game against the Phillies, his third since landing on the DL with an ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow. He will begin a Minor League rehab assignment Sunday at Potomac, and if all goes well, he will be activated during the next series in San Diego.
Left-hander Matt Grace also threw a bullpen session Friday, his first time throwing off a mound since he went to the DL with a sore left groin on April 21. Grace is scheduled to throw another bullpen session in a few days before he pitches multiple innings at a Minor League rehab stint before he is activated.
Grace appeared in 10 games for the Nationals and was starting to become a reliever Martinez leaned on first as a bridge between the starting pitcher to the back end. When he has been healthy in the past, Kelley can also be that sort of reliable pitcher.
Kelley threw a 36-pitch bullpen session Friday, a bit longer than usual in order to simulate the process of warming up and pitching through an inning while testing his stamina. He says he feels good and has not experienced any discomfort in his elbow since he exited the game early on April 23 after throwing just four pitches.
"My strength is good, my arm feels good," Kelley said. "I think it was a freak thing that happened, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to bounce back so quick. I'll be fine, we'll test it out Sunday just so we can check that off."