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Injury-plagued Rendon eager to reclaim career with Angels

March 17, 2022 GMT
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Anthony Rendon walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., July 18, 2021. Over two years after Rendon signed a $245 million deal with the Angels, their fans have seen very little return on owner Arte Moreno’s investment in the third baseman. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, File)
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Anthony Rendon walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., July 18, 2021. Over two years after Rendon signed a $245 million deal with the Angels, their fans have seen very little return on owner Arte Moreno’s investment in the third baseman. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, File)
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Anthony Rendon walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., July 18, 2021. Over two years after Rendon signed a $245 million deal with the Angels, their fans have seen very little return on owner Arte Moreno’s investment in the third baseman. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, File)
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Anthony Rendon walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., July 18, 2021. Over two years after Rendon signed a $245 million deal with the Angels, their fans have seen very little return on owner Arte Moreno’s investment in the third baseman. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, File)
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Anthony Rendon walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., July 18, 2021. Over two years after Rendon signed a $245 million deal with the Angels, their fans have seen very little return on owner Arte Moreno’s investment in the third baseman. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo, File)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Over two years after Anthony Rendon signed a $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels, their fans have seen very little return on owner Arte Moreno’s investment in the third baseman.

In fact, they’ve seen very little of Rendon at all: They weren’t allowed in Angel Stadium during his debut season in 2020, and he played only 30 home games last year before injuries shut him down for the season.

Rendon scoffs at the notion he needs to show anything to anybody, even the fans who have yet to really appreciate the slugger who earned his free-agent money with a spectacular 2019 season for Washington.

“Maybe they can go back and look at some tape,” Rendon said with a laugh. “I’ve been playing for a while.”

But the 31-year-old Rendon seems equally determined to get back to the level of play that earned him such a lavish free-agent contract.

The key to everything with Rendon is health: He was injured for essentially all of last season, but he’s feeling great in Tempe, Arizona.

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“It’s like night and day,” Rendon said. “I don’t feel anything stabbing me in the groin anymore, so that’s good.”

After a decent debut in 2020, Rendon was limited to 58 games and six homers last season with the Angels, largely because of a hip injury that plagued his entire campaign and sidelined him for good after July 4. He also injured his quadriceps, fouled a ball off his knee and had hamstring problems before undergoing right hip surgery in August.

Several of those injuries seemed relatively minor, but his right hip impingement was ruining his entire approach, even as a fielder.

“I was not even able to rotate my hips,” Rendon said. “And if you look back at the highlights over the last two years, my back leg doesn’t move. It doesn’t rotate. ... I didn’t know why. I knew something was wrong, even though every MRI and CT scan was clean. But I was feeling this pain for a reason, so I had to dig in deeper and find out what was going on.”

Rendon returned to baseball activities in November, and he has been building up his strength during the long offseason. With four young children at home in Houston, Rendon also had plenty to occupy him in the off hours from his recovery.

“I think that’s the earliest I’ve ever started hitting in an offseason, in November,” Rendon said. “And then I got on the treadmill, and I was full speed by January, and it gave me the confidence just knowing that I was recovering based on how I felt the next day.”

Rendon and Mike Trout are the Angels’ biggest offseason additions after they both missed the majority of last season with injuries. Rendon, Trout and Shohei Ohtani only played 17 games together last season, but the three sluggers are all healthy and hungry to end the Angels’ seven-year playoff drought.

“If we’re out there at the same time, I think obviously we will be better,” Rendon said. “Hopefully that can happen this year.”

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CLOSING ARGUMENT

Raisel Iglesias will be limited mostly to one-inning appearances this season, manager Joe Maddon said. Although Iglesias was an excellent multi-inning reliever during 15 such outings last season, Maddon said the Angels’ bullpen is better overall this season, and they want their prized closer to stay healthy and fresh.

The 32-year-old Iglesias agreed to a four-year, $58 million contract to return to Los Angeles. He had 34 saves last season with a 2.57 ERA with 103 strikeouts against just 12 walks.

Iglesias said roughly 20 teams showed interest in him as a free agent, but he wanted to return to the Angels if the money was right.

“I always told my agent that the Angels had the first priority,” Iglesias said Thursday through an interpreter. “There’s a lot of chemistry with this team.”

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