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Washington Nationals’ lineup for tonight’s series opener with the St. Louis Cardinals

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Washington and St. Louis start a three-game set in Busch Stadium at 7:45 PM EDT, but before that — some praise for Howie Kendrick...

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Howie Kendrick missed nine games with a hamstring issue between July 31st and August 12th, but going into Sunday’s series finale with the Atlanta Braves, the 36-year-old, 14-year veteran was 21 for 53 (.396 AVG) since returning from the Injured List, with a total of seven doubles, two home runs, four walks, and 10 runs scored over 22 games (10 starts) and 58 plate appearances.

Kendrick also had a .307/.354/.484 line in the 62 games he’d started this season with 16 of 23 doubles and 9 of 14 HRs coming in the games he’d started.

Kendrick added his 10th homer when he starts and 15th homer of the season in the bottom of the fifth, connecting for his third hit of the day to that point (3 for 3, 2 R, 3 RBIs) after he singled to start the second and scored on a single by Yan Gomes, and drove in two runs in the third with an RBI line drive to center, making it 4-0 at that point in what ended up a 7-0 win.

A 3 for 4 game against the Braves left Kendrick with a .315/.360/.500 line on the season in his 63 starts, to go along with a .429/.492/.821 line when he comes on as a sub, and a gaudy .382/.421/.647 line in 38 plate appearances as a pinch hitter (in which he’s hit three doubles and two home runs).

“He’s having a fantastic year, No. 1,” Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale said when he filled in for manager Davey Martinez in the post-game presser, after Martinez took ill on Sunday and went to a local hospital to get checked out.

“He’s a pro,” Hale said of Kendrick.

“He just knows how to do things. He knows — the situation he hit the home run, he knew what that guy was going to do. He’d obviously thrown the ball right by Juan [Soto] for a strikeout, the lefty, [Grant] Dayton, and he went up there and he knew what he was looking for and he got it, and was able to produce.”

Having a versatile player like Kendrick, Hale said, is an extremely valuable asset, who can play a variety of positions and produce offensively in any situation.

“It’s always an advantage, versatility is,” Hale explained, “... you look at the teams that are really pushing right now and making it — they can put numerous people in numerous positions, and when you have guys like that, it’s really huge for you, as a manager, as a coach, you know if somebody goes down or you need to make a double switch, you’re not missing anything.”

Kendrick is sitting out again tonight, but we’ll see if he finds a way to contribute...

HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE OPENER WITH THE CARDINALS: