HARRISBURG, Penn. -- When the Nationals optioned third baseman Anthony Rendon back to Double-A Harrisburg on May 3, he didn't pout. Instead, he hit.
Following about a two-week stint in the big leagues with Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list, Rendon returned to the Minors and immediately went on a tear. In his first 11 games back through Tuesday, he is 17-for-39 (.436) with six doubles, two home runs, nine walks and nine RBIs. That earned him Eastern League Player of the Week honors for May 6-12.
"I didn't think that getting sent down was a negative," said Rendon, MLB.com's No. 1 Nationals prospect. "Honestly, not that I didn't care, but I knew my stint wasn't going to be that long under the circumstances, so I wanted to make the best of it while I was there. And then I came back here and kept doing the same thing I was doing."
The 22-year-old is batting .356 with four home runs, 16 RBIs and a 1.105 OPS in 25 games for the Senators this season. Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy said he saw Rendon begin to click at the plate before his callup.
"Tremendous talent. It's fun to watch," LeCroy said. "I think he's got a little bit more confidence coming down and realizing how difficult the game is up there and then you come down here and it's not as hard. To his credit, he's worked hard, he's developed a routine from Day 1, and it's carried over. He's started seeing the rewards for his work."
The Nationals made it clear that Rendon's first stint with the big club would be temporary when they brought him up to fill in for Zimmerman. Over eight games, he went 6-for-25 (.240) with a double, five walks and a .367 on-base percentage.
Rendon said he did not receive any particular instructions about what to work on before he was sent back. In LeCroy's mind, there isn't much he needs to do, other than gain experience. Injuries have limited the Nationals' first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft to 76 professional games.
"He just needs to play," LeCroy said. "His talent level and skill level is so high so when he does get a chance to go back to the big leagues he's going to be pretty good."
Rendon continues to get a little work at second base in addition to third to increase his versatility. His next chance in Washington may depend on the health of the Major League club, but when that chance arrives, he figures to be more prepared to handle it.
"The more at-bats I get up there the more comfortable I'll feel," Rendon said. "So if it does happen that I go back there, I'll be more comfortable because I've been there before, I'll know my surroundings, I know the situation. I know what to expect."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less