The Angels’ lineup Friday night was marked by a troubling absence.
Not Shohei Ohtani, who gave his back a rest a day after it stiffened while pitching. He rarely takes a game off and this one was prudent.
No, it was Anthony Rendon. And he’ll be out for a while.
The third baseman slogging through the third year of a weighty seven-year, $245 million contract felt enough discomfort in his right wrist to submit to a MRI exam Friday. The result was announced moments after the Angels fell 4-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium.
Rendon was placed on the injured list with inflammation and a corresponding roster move will be made Saturday. Sigh.
Head athletic trainer Mike Frostad said the wrist had been bothering Rendon enough that it affected his ability to throw, forcing him to sling the ball sidearm to first base. Whether the injury impacted Rendon’s at-bats is unclear, although based on results, it wouldn’t be a surprise. For two years Rendon has displayed precious few flashes of his memorable 2019 heroics with the World Series champion Washington Nationals.
Even after his best week of the season, he is batting only .242 with five home runs in 41 games a year after batting .240 with six home runs in 58 games before hip surgery ended his season in July. That was his third stint on the injured list in 2021 and this is the first of 2022.
Is this the player Rendon has become at age 31? If so, he’ll be lumped in with Vernon Wells, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols as another high-priced bust whose career soared until crashing to earth in an Angels uniform.
Rendon will be the Angels’ highest-paid player through 2026, making $38,571,428 each of the next four years, according to Baseball Reference. Mike Trout will be paid $37,116,667 per year until his contract expires in 2030.
Asked a day earlier whether Rendon can approximate the player who batted .290 with 136 home runs and 546 RBIs in seven seasons with Washington, Angels manager Joe Maddon said yes, with a caveat.
“In order for us to see that, we’ve got to give him rest once in a while,” he said. “He’s coming off surgery, and it’s pretty significant. So you’ve got to be mindful of all that stuff. So I think as long as we are aware, we give him rest appropriately, we have a better chance of seeing that. If we want to just run him into the ground, probably not.”
In other words, kid gloves appear necessary. Rendon is private, humble and uncommonly relaxed. His languid playing style was endearing three years ago when he led the National League with 126 RBIs and posted a 1.010 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Angels owner Arte Moreno was sold, saying at the time the signing was “a great fit for what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
That would be a playoff berth, at the very least. A healthy Rendon regaining the form that prompted the Angels to empty the bank would help.
The Blue Jays scored the winning run in the ninth when Angels right fielder Juan Lagares misplayed a single by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., allowing Alejandro Kirk to score from second. . . . Taylor Ward was in the Angels lineup for the first time in eight days, serving as designated hitter. Ward, who came in batting .367, has a neck stinger that is keeping him from throwing. The injury doesn’t bother him when he swings a bat, but the rust showed: He struck out three times. . . . The attendance of 44,641 was a sellout primarily because of a Star Wars theme including an “Ohtani-Wan Kenobi” bobblehead giveaway. Ohtani struck out as a pinch-hitter to end the game. . . Sam Bachman, the No. 9 overall pick in last year’s draft, pulled himself from the Angels’ double-A game Friday night after throwing a pitch. Bachman missed the first three weeks of the season with back spasms but threw 11 scoreless innings in his first three starts.