OAKLAND -- Third baseman Anthony Rendon returned to the lineup for the Angels against the A’s on Monday night after missing more than three months with what was expected to be season-ending right wrist surgery on June 20.
But Rendon’s wrist healed faster than expected, allowing him to finish the season healthy and serve a five-game suspension stemming from his role in a benches-clearing altercation with the Mariners on June 26. Rendon was officially activated from the injured list on Wednesday and served his suspension with two games against the A’s in Anaheim and three against the Rangers over the weekend in Arlington.
He started at third base and batted fifth, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts at the plate before coming out of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning of an eventual 5-4 loss in 10 innings. The defeat halted the Angels' winning streak at seven games, while Shohei Ohtani extended his career-best hitting streak to 18 games.
Rendon's early exit was planned, as he didn’t have a rehab assignment before being activated, and he’s also not expected to play a full game on Tuesday. He made a throwing error, but also made a strong throw home for a forceout in the third inning.
"He moved around good," said interim manager Phil Nevin. "He had the one wide throw, but I'm not worried about that. It was good to see him get back out there. He had some balls hit at him. Took some good swings, just had some misses. He hasn't seen live pitching, really, outside of the guys we brought in this week [in live BP]. It had been almost four months, so it was neat to see him back out there."
Rendon said he always had the goal of returning before the end of the season despite the initial prognosis because he didn’t want to finish a second straight year on the injured list after undergoing season-ending hip surgery last August.
"That was always my expectation," Rendon said. "This is two years in a row now. Whether it was going to happen or not, I was going to push myself to try to come back this year. If it worked, it worked. If it didn’t, that’s fine. I was OK with that. Going into the offseason, I didn’t want to leave anything behind."
Rendon, who signed a seven-year deal worth $245 million before the 2020 season, said it was important for him to have peace of mind heading into the offseason healthy and was pleased with how his rehab process went. He said he’ll be able to have a full, normal offseason, which wasn’t the case last year as he didn’t get healthy until late January. Rendon wasn’t at full strength in Spring Training this year, but he's not expecting it to be an issue next year.
"That was a major factor, just having the peace of mind of going into the winter and having a normal offseason," Rendon said. "I feel good. It’s kind of a relief off my shoulders."
Nevin was impressed by Rendon’s work ethic during his recovery and noted he was there for his teammates despite not being able to play. Rendon did his rehab at Angel Stadium and also joined the Angels on their road trip to Texas and Minnesota last week to continue his baseball activities.
"It’s really a credit to him," Nevin said. "You hear 'season-ending,' most guys would shut it down. Anthony’s been here, been present every day with his teammates, which is huge. We’ve had a lot of young guys come in and out of here and he’s been a mentor to them. I can’t think of any guy who would be much better than that. He’s a World Series champion. The things he’s done in this game, the knowledge he has. It’s a credit to him and the work he’s put in behind the scenes to get to this point."
Rendon, 32, was hitting .228/.324/.383 with five homers, 10 doubles and 24 RBIs in 45 games before being shut down with his wrist injury on June 14. He also batted .240/.329/.382 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 58 games last year.
But when healthy, Rendon is considered one of the better third basemen in the Majors. He’s a career .285/.368/.480 hitter in 1,071 games over 10 seasons with the Nationals and Angels. Keeping him healthy will be one of the club’s top priorities next year, and an early return from his wrist injury should be good sign toward allowing him to have his normal offseason routine. And, of course, serving that five-game suspension means that won't be a factor to begin next season, either.
"Just being able to write Anthony’s name down in the lineup is a good feeling," Nevin said. "But there’s things he’s got to do also with his body to get better, as we all do."