Anthony Rendon has said he wants this Spring Training to be one the Washington Nationals management will remember.
In today's Spring Training game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Rendon hit his third home run of the spring to the opposite field. In 20 at-bats, Rendon is hitting .400, with eight hits, three homers, three doubles and eight RBIs. Make what you will of Spring Training stats, but the only other two hitters with a comparable number of at-bats who are hitting better than he is are Ian Desmond (.412) and Bryce Harper (.474). Like Harper, Rendon continues to impress in the batters box, and when the way you're playing earns you comparison with Bryce Harper, you better believe you are going to be remembered.
Davey Johnson has said there is no way Rendon makes the big league club out of Spring Training, but after seeing his level of performance up close, there are many Nationals fans who would not complain one bit if Rendon was a September call-up.
The other standout in today's game, as usual, was Stephen Strasburg. The Nats' ace threw 67 pitches in 3.2 innings, allowed two runs and struck out six. Strasburg was strong to start, with a 1-2-3 first inning, and according to a tweet by MASN's Dan Kolko, four of his six strikeouts were on unhittable change ups to lefties. As Strasburg progresses through Spring Training, we can look for his game face to become stonier, and for him to settle in to his Opening Day rhythm.
The Phillies-Nationals rivalry also took a step toward its regular season strength, when Roy Halladay threw behind Tyler Moore in retaliation for Strasburg first hitting Chase Utley in the foot. Based on Halladay's reaction in post-game interviews, Nationals beat writers seemed to believe that Halladay may have thrown at Moore on purpose, while Strasburg was not impressed with the incident.
To the Washington Post, Strasburg said, "I don’t understand why they’d think I was throwing at them. Obviously you can tell the conditions weren’t great and I yanked it in there. It’s spring training. If you’re going to throw at somebody or give a message in spring training, go ahead.”
If it's only Spring Training and the claws are already coming out between these two teams, their faceoffs this season are bound to be interesting.