“I was gonna push myself to try to come back as soon as possible,” Rendon said during the Angels’ penultimate homestand against the Seattle Mariners. “Whether we’re in the hunt, whether we weren’t in the hunt.
“I think that’s still a possibility.”
A return this season, which has 16 games remaining after Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Mariners, is not certain. Rendon had surgery to repair the tendon in June. The estimated recovery time was four to six months. If he does get activated from the injured list, he will have his five-game suspension — from the Angels-Mariners brawl — to serve first.
Dealing with that suspension this year would mean the third baseman could start his 2023 season without that additional hurdle.
“He’s still progressing,” athletic trainer Mike Frostad said in his latest update of Rendon this weekend. “Our goal for him is to be healthy going into next season and to have a normal offseason. If he gets to play this year, it’s a bonus, but we haven’t laid anything out that’s going to be in that type of time range.”
Interim manager Phil Nevin said recently that Rendon’s advances in his rehabilitation were surprising.
“He’s doing a lot of things on the field that we weren’t sure he was gonna get to at this point,” Nevin said Sept. 6.
He was cleared to start taking ground balls and lightly toss balls from about five feet in the middle of August. Earlier this month, he added throwing across the length of the infield and hitting in the batting cages to his progression.
“I think we’re progressing each day trying to do more,” Rendon said of his rehab. “Try to break up all that junk that’s been tight for so long after surgery because [my wrist] was immobile. … If it hurts the next day, then it means we did too much. We haven’t had those days yet. Hopefully it just continues to go that way.”
Rendon started feeling discomfort in his wrist during his third at-bat in the Angels’ game against the Washington Nationals on May 8. He was put on the injured list at the end of the month, returned June 10 and played in four games before his wrist problem proved too much for him to continue playing. And he was scheduled for the surgery to repair the tendon the next week.
It was the second time in two years that his season would be cut short because of a significant injury. In 2021, he suffered a season-ending hip injury. His biggest challenge of the rehab process this time around has been a mental one.
“Mainly just because this is the second year in a row,” Rendon said. “Nobody likes being hurt, but for the fact this was two years in a row, I think it’s been the biggest part for me, just trying to handle that, trying to stay mentally prepared, mentally strong.
“Just the fact that, you know, it’s out of my hands. These are the cards I’ve been dealt. [So it’s been] how do I stay positive throughout the entire day.”
Rendon knew when he decided to get the surgery that the possibility of a return before the end of the 2022 season would have a small window. A potential comeback wouldn’t be good just for dealing with a suspension and being able to close out the season in games, but for peace of mind.
“That’s why I’m trying to come back to play at least before the season’s end,” Rendon said. “So just for the mental aspect of it, saying that: ‘All right, I came back, I was playing in games. Now. I’m going into the offseason to get stronger, just to kind of rejuvenate, to get prepared for next season.’
“It’s not necessarily like last year, going into the offseason to rehab to get strength back up to try to feel normal again,” he continued. “If I get into a game, then all right, that’s my normal, I’m gonna go back to playing. I think that’s going to be the big key.”
As for what the offseason might look like, Rendon, like most major league players in a more typical season, likes to take a break and decompress. This offseason might be different.
“I may continue baseball activities from October and on, might not be as rigorous but just to kind of get the feeling of everything, not lose anything,” Rendon said. “I think it’s gonna be a little bit different. So we’ll just kind of play by ear when I get back home.”
It’s outta here
Luis Rengifo’s bat has been hotter than ever this weekend.
In the Angels’ 5-1 win Sunday over Seattle, he not only hit his first career leadoff home run — in the first inning against Marco Gonzalez — he also hit a two-run homer in the third inning for his second multi-home run game. His first career multi-home run game was Friday.
The big shots got the Angels their first lead and allowed them to reclaim the lead again after the Mariners scored in the second inning.
Joining his home run party was newly called up Livan Soto. Soto got his first major league start Sunday after making his MLB debut the night before. Soto hit his first big league home run, a two-run shot over the right-field fence, in the seventh to give the Angels a 5-1 lead.
On the mound, Reid Detmers pitched six innings, giving up one earned run and four hits, walking two and striking out three. José Quijada came on in the ninth to close the game.