No, Anthony Rendon isn’t making the Nationals’ Opening Day roster

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With Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have two of the most exciting young players in the sport. Which makes it all the more impressive that the sweet-swinging Anthony Rendon has drawn so much attention this spring. But we’re going to have to wait a little while for his major league debut.

Rendon, selected No. 6 overall by the Nationals in 2011, is hitting .385 (5-for-13) with a home run, two doubles and five RBI over six games during Grapefruit League play. The hot start led to Nationals manager Davey Johnson being asked yesterday whether there could be a scenario where he could make the team’s Opening Day roster. According to Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com, Johnson shot that question down as only he can.

“No. He needs the reps. He needs to go play,” Johnson responded, before cracking a smile. “We’ve only had five or six games, holy moly. You’re crowning him the next savior?

“Jeez. You’re awful.”

Johnson’s response is understandable, as Rendon was limited to just 43 games in the minors last season due to an ankle injury. The 22-year-old could really benefit by making it through an entire season healthy while getting regular at-bats. Besides, with Ryan Zimmerman at third base, Danny Espinosa at second base and Ian Desmond at shortstop, it’s not like there’s a place for him in the starting lineup with the big club.

Rendon’s time will come, either through injury or perhaps later this year as a September call-up. And when it happens, the Nationals have a chance to be even better. It’s a scary thought.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?