Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, who missed the first two months of the season with knee and oblique injuries, is headed back to the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle.
Rendon played 18 games between the DL stints, hitting .290 with zero homers and a .737 OPS while splitting time between second base and third base defensively. Last season he played 157 of 162 games, leading the league in runs scored and finishing fifth in the MVP balloting.
He joins left fielder Jayson Werth, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and backup outfielders Nate McLouth and Reed Johnson on the Nationals’ disabled list, forcing manager Matt Williams to put together a patchwork lineup that will once again likely include plenty of playing time for Danny Espinosa.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.