2 surgeries later, Rendon finally healthy

February 20th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. --  has a simple goal this season.

“Not to have another surgery,” Rendon said.

It only seems fair.

“Two-for-two the last two years, it sucked,” said Rendon, who underwent tendon surgery in his right wrist June 20. "It drains a lot out of you, not just physically but mentally. It’s not fun at all. Every single time, it gets worse.”

Wrist and hip surgeries took over the better part of Rendon’s last two seasons after an abbreviated 2020, so it has been a while since Rendon has been a full contributor.

Rendon has heard the idle chatter that comes with unavailability. That his best days may be behind him. That seasons such as the 34-homer, 126-RBI 2019 that landed him the seven-year, $245 million contract commitment from the Angels might be out of reach.

“You definitely hear it,” said Rendon, who has played 105 games the last two seasons. “I don’t have social media, but my friends do. My family does. They’ll text me, 'They are saying this. They are saying that.' I hear it, and at times, yeah, it pisses you off. I try not to let it go further than that. You just try to use it and continue to go on.”

Manager Phil Nevin said he has seen a committed, centered Rendon this spring, with visions of a batting order starting with , ,  and Rendon.

“I know what kind of winter he has had. I know where his mind’s at,” Nevin said. “It’s in a really good place. He hears the noise, certainly does. He’s made reference of that to me. He’s not out to prove people wrong. He doesn’t have to prove anything. He wants to win.

“He’s been in this position before, and I know he’s pumped to get this thing started. Watching him in the cage, watching him move around, he looks free. I don’t think he needs any more motivation, but you certainly hear things like that. There are certain personalities, it may drive somebody away. Tony is certainly not that guy. I know the person. I know what kind of leader he became after last year.”

After knee surgery limited Rendon to 80 games in 2015, he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year with 20 homers and 85 RBIs with Washington in 2016. That began a four-season stretch in which he averaged 42 doubles, 26 homers, 101 RBIs and a .912 OPS.

Another such year would certainly make Rendon a legitimate candidate to repeat, and Angels general manager Perry Minasian has said he could see that happening.

“To have the opportunity to win it again means you had another injury, so I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing,” Rendon said. "I want to play. That’s first and foremost, right?”

Rendon admitted to an unusual feeling while taking swings and ground balls the first few days of camp due to missing time.

“Weird. Awkward, right?” Rendon said. “I was looking back on it this offseason. In 2020, we had 60 games, wasn’t really a season. Obviously the last two years it hasn’t been great. I haven’t played a lot of baseball the last few years.”

Rendon returned for the two games near the end of 2022, going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. While the numbers were not Rendonian, the mental lift outweighed the stats.

“It was good to show myself going into the offseason that I could play,” he said. “It wasn’t the greatest playing those last few games, but just to have that in the back of your mind knowing that I had another three months knowing I could continue to get stronger.”

The effects of the wrist surgery lingered into an offseason that included more rehab and strength training, he said. A positive of the down time was that his hip could get stronger from his 2021 surgery.

Rendon said he is confident he can be the same player as before.

“I’ve been around a great team of physical therapists, strength trainers, people that hold me accountable and get me back to as close to 100 percent as I can,” he said.

“Even if the season doesn’t work out or the next four years don’t work out, I’m planning for taking care of my kids when they get older. Hip surgeries, wrist surgeries, ankle surgeries … I want to play with them when they are 10, 12, 15 years old.

“Right now, it looks like we are only playing for these next four years of baseball, but I’m trying to hang out with my kids for the rest of their lives.”