When the Los Angeles Angels host the Washington Nationals Sunday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon will have come full circle.
Sunday’s game will complete the three-game series between the two teams, who split the first two games. This is the first time Rendon has come face-to-face with his old team since he was a key component in the Nationals’ World Series title in 2019.
But while the uniform looked familiar to Rendon, not many players did. Only seven players from the 2019 championship team remain, and three of them (Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle and Joe Ross) are on the injured list.
Only Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Patrick Corbin and Tanner Rainey were on the championship team and are on the active roster now. But it didn’t matter much to Rendon, who said the reunion brought back happy memories.
“Yeah, without a doubt,” he said. “I actually have (a replica of) the World Series trophy here in my house, so I see it every day. It’s a constant reminder. It’s something spectacular, and now I want to bring that here.”
Rendon said that the changes are simply a reflection of the game today.
“It’s the business, you know?” he said. “They just had a couple of bad-luck incidents (injuries) the last couple years, and they ended up kind of dispersing everybody. It is what it is.”
Rendon is 0 for 8 with two strikeouts in the first two games of the series and still has a ways to go to look like the hitter who batted .319 with 34 homers and 126 in 2019.
He endured an injury-plagued 2021 season, and is off to a slow start so far in 2022, hitting .202 with three homers and 12 RBIs. He made just one error in 57 games last year, but has made four already this season.
“I feel like I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m getting more at-bats, more swings, getting the timing down, getting used to the new body, the new hip and the new leg. So I think we’re getting better. And we’re winning. I mean, I’ll keep hitting .200 if we keep winning.”
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (1-1, 1.29 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season for the Angels. He had not allowed an earned run all season until his last time out, when he gave up three runs in six innings against the Chicago White Sox, getting tagged for his first loss of the season. He has never faced the Nationals.
Right-hander Erick Fedde (2-2, 4.68) will make his sixth start of the season for the Nationals, coming off his best start of 2022 when he allowed just one run in seven innings in a win over the Rockies on Tuesday.
The performance was big for Fedde because it marked the first time he pitched more than five innings all season. Nationals manager Dave Martinez said he had to convince Fedde not to try to do too much when he got ahead in the count, which ultimately will help keep his pitch count down and keep him in games longer.
“I talked a little … about not doing that, just stay within yourself and make a good pitch,” Martinez said. “I always say, when the hitter is 0-2, it becomes a different at-bat for him, so just make a good pitch, don’t try to make the turbo pitch, and you might get out of those situations in 3-4 pitches.”
Fedde never has faced the Angels.
–Field Level Media