Anthony Rendon, predictably, probably, downplayed any thought of his first game against the Washington Nationals being an emotional event when he spoke with reporters before last night’s series opener with the LA Angels in Angel Stadium.
Drafted by the Nats in the 1st Round in 2011; (6th overall); Rendon played seven seasons for the Nationals, helping the club win the first World Series by a D.C.-based team since 1924 in 2019.
Rendon, now 33, signed a 7-year/$245M free agent deal with the Angels after putting up a .290/.369/.490 line with 245 doubles and 136 home runs in his 916 games and 3297 in D.C. and helping the club win it all in ‘19.
Playing against them for the first time though? [shrugs shoulders]
“I mean, maybe if it was back in D.C.,” Rendon said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman when asked if it would be an emotional or sentimental weekend, going up against his old team.
“Then it would probably be a little different,” he explained, “... with the fans and whatnot and being familiar with that surrounding. But here, not so much.”
Rendon’s manager in 2018-19, Davey Martinez, was a little more open about the emotions of seeing members of the World Series’ roster again, with Rendon and catcher Kurt Suzuki out in Anaheim now.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them both,” Martinez said before the series opener in Angel Stadium.
“Ali [Modami, a staff assistant in LA who was with the Nationals as well] is over there too ... and obviously [Angels’ manager] Joe [Maddon] and myself we go way back, and [Assistant Hitting Coach John Mallee], hitting coach, [Paul] Sorrento, all those guys, I know a lot of guys over there, but it’s going to be good to see Anthony and Suzuki. As you know, we built a special bond together, so I’m looking forward to seeing [them] and talking to [them].”
While he has a bond with a lot of former teammates, players, and fellow coaches, Martinez said, the bond you form with members of a World Series winner are special.
“It’s a little bit different. It really is. Like I said, to go through what we did, and do what we did, and then come out on top the way we did, you build those relationships throughout a course of a year, and to complete a season the way we did in ‘19, those are the memories that will never go away, and when I see Anthony out there today and I see Suzuki, it will bring back some flashbacks to what we did in ‘19, and even before that, even in ‘18 when I had Anthony Rendon, so like I said, it’s fun to see those guys, it will be fun to talk to them and reminisce a little bit, but when the game starts, we got to figure out how to get them out.”
Rendon did discuss the value he adds to a team with the experience of winning it all, and said he hopes to help build a championship team in Anaheim, and Martinez said he is real happy to see what they built together in Washington in 2019 passed on around the major leagues as players move on and continue their careers outside the nation’s capital.
“It’s awesome,” the fifth-year skipper said, “... and for guys that haven’t done it and haven’t experienced it, the guys that do do it and have that experience, it helps a lot, and Anthony is one of those guys who can do that, Suzuki is one of those guys who can do that, but it’s really nice to hear those guys mentor other guys and explain to them, ‘This is how got there in ‘19, this is what we did,’ and it’s fun to listen to those guys talk about it.”
As for what he was going to say to Rendon when he saw him for the first time this weekend?
“You know, who knows with Anthony, it could go in different directions, but I just can’t wait to give him a big hug and just say hi.”