Anthony Rendon got the start at second base tonight in the Washington Nationals' Grapefruit League game with the Atlanta Braves from Lake Buena Vista, FL's Champion Stadium. Before the game, the Washington Nationals' 23-year-old second baseman talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Chad Dukes in an interview recorded live in the dugout of the Braves' spring home.
Rendon, the Nationals' 2011 1st Round pick, is in camp competing for the starting job at second after debuting last season and putting together a +1.5 fWAR campaign in his first major league season. Rendon finished the year with a .265/.329/.396 line in 98 games and 394 plate appearances over which he hit 23 doubles and seven home runs.
#Nationals Anthony Rendon goes to his right very well for ground ball by the speedy Heyward. His defense not a liability. Quick first step.— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) March 6, 2014
In an interview this winter, Rendon said there was some comfort in knowing he'd be playing second base this year. Drafted as a third baseman out of Rice, he worked mostly at third until right before he was called up to the majors to replace Danny Espinosa on the right side of the Nationals' infield on a full-time basis last June. In today's interview, he reiterated that it's easier knowing what to prepare for in Spring Training.
"It's a little bit of a relief," Rendon said. "You get to come out and you can just work at second base, but I've also been working at third base as well, going back and taking ground balls, and getting used to the swing of things over there as well. The more positions you play as a player, the more benefit you have."
Rendon was asked about two of the hot-button issues this spring. Matt Williams talked some about potentially using Nats' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman at first base in Grapefruit League action and this season and if Zimmerman were to move over to first for some games, Rendon would likely play third in that scenario. He said he hasn't seem much of Zimmerman at first, but he was sure his 29-year-old, fellow Nationals' 1st Round pick can handle it.
"I actually haven't seen him over there yet," Rendon said with a laugh. "I think he must have been taking ground balls whenever I wasn't out there. But I'm pretty sure he looks like a natural over there. He looks like a natural at third base."
Rendon was also asked what he thought of another Nationals' 1st Round pick, Bryce Harper, who was captured on film in the last couple days looking exceptionally large after having bulked up in the offseason as he recovered from surgery on his left knee.
Rendon was asked what he thought of the 21-year-old slugger's new physique?
"Physique?" Rendon joked. "The dude's always huge. He's Bryce Harper. He's like a young specimen. I ain't too worried. He's a large cat. I think he's like a 30-year-old man trapped in a kid's body."
• Listen to the entire interview with Anthony Rendon and 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Chad Dukes below: