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Rendon feels healthy, ready for 2016 season

Nats third baseman looks to start anew after being hampered by injuries in '15
MLB.com @ladsonbill24

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon did everything right during the first day of full-squad workouts on Thursday. There he was doing infield drills without any problems. Live batting practice? He faced closer Jonathan Papelbon without incident.

After the workouts, Rendon was his playful self. He pretended that he didn't want to talk to the media, but then sat in front of his locker and proclaimed that he is ready to play a full season.

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon did everything right during the first day of full-squad workouts on Thursday. There he was doing infield drills without any problems. Live batting practice? He faced closer Jonathan Papelbon without incident.

After the workouts, Rendon was his playful self. He pretended that he didn't want to talk to the media, but then sat in front of his locker and proclaimed that he is ready to play a full season.

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"I feel great. Three and a half months of the offseason, I had a lot of rest, a lot of working out, getting in shape, I feel good." Rendon said. "[During the offseason], we stuck to the same routine. We incorporated flexibility, dynamic stretching, dynamic working out. You name it, I did it."

Unlike last year, Rendon will not be at second base. With Yunel Escobar traded to the Angels in the offseason, Rendon will return to third base. If Rendon stays healthy, the Nationals could get the player they had in 2014, when he was the team MVP. That year, Rendon hit .287 with 21 home runs, 83 RBIs and a 6.5 WAR. He also played admirably at the hot corner.

Last year was a different story, however. Rendon could hardly stay on the field -- playing just 80 games in all. He started the season on the disabled list because of a sprained MCL in his left knee. Rendon returned to action in June, but was back on the DL 18 games later because of a quad injury. He returned in late July and acknowledged that he wasn't right.

"I was always playing catch up," Rendon said. "Everyone is in midseason form and I'm just coming out of Spring Training. You have rehab at-bats in the Minors. That really helped out a lot, but it didn't push me over that edge. I was constantly trying to find the barrel, find my comfortability at the plate, trying to find my comfortability on the field."

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Now in his fourth season with the Nationals, Rendon admitted that the clubhouse will be different without Ian Desmond, who is currently a free agent. Rendon was thinking about his former teammate the other day. Rendon called him a close teammate and someone he looked up to. In fact, on this day, Rendon was sitting in the locker that was once occupied by Desmond.

"He carried himself the right way -- on and off the field. He is going to be missed," Rendon said.

With Desmond no longer on the team, Rendon was asked who would step up to be the leader of the Nationals.

"That's a good question. I guess, we'll see who will step up this Spring Training and see who will take that role," Rendon said. "I think as a whole, we can all gather together and be a part of it instead of just having ... one individual leader leading the pack. We can all just come together and just be a group leader."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

 

Washington Nationals, Anthony Rendon