I caught up with Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon on April 9 before his team took the field against East Carolina. . .
We had you as the No. 100 high school prospect heading into your senior year of high school and now you're one of the top prospects in the country. What has that transition been like for you? How have you grown as a player at Rice?
I've grown tremendously—both physically and mentally. Coming out of high school, I was probably 5-10 and 160 pounds. We have great strength training programs here at Rice, you know, and then just learning the game with Coach Graham and learning the different aspects of baseball and learning how to deal with failure a lot better, it's made me mature a lot more. So, I give all the credit to Rice University.
You had a huge year last year and now you're getting more respect with all the intentional walks. Does that ever get frustrating—not being able to hit and just being put on base so much?
I mean, of course it's going to get frustrating because I'm a hitter, that's what I love to do and that's my favorite part of the game, hitting. I guess it is respect that I've been doing good, but you can't get frustrated because it's just a part of the game. And we have a lot of guys doing good behind me that can get the job done. Like yesterday, they got the job done and we got the win and I didn't even do anything.
How's everything feeling now? Is the ankle 100 percent healthy?
Yeah, the ankle's 100 percent healthy. I did a great rehab over the summer and into fall workouts and I came back into the spring healthy and ready to go. Coach Graham even said, 'Hey, you look faster out there!' So, I guess working out my legs actually helped.
How about with your shoulder—is there any sort of timetable on that?
No, we're just taking it how it is. It's just a shoulder strain, so I don't want to jump back too quick and get hurt again. I just have to take it slow and build up my throwing progression. I don't want to jump too far ahead and start throwing the ball hard and re-injure it again, so I have to take it slow.
Tell me how the shoulder injury happened.
It's a funny story. This year, coming into it, coach was like, 'OK, you're done with the injuries. I just want you to come out here and play baseball. You better not have an arm injury, like you did freshman year!' So, I was doing stretches and I guess I was overcompensating and stretching my arm a lot to try and make sure I wasn't hurt this year. I was doing some stretching and I guess I stretched it too far and it didn't feel too good. It turned out to be a muscle strain, so I guess I overcompensated by thinking about not getting injured and I got injured. Just a little, freak accident!
How would you respond to someone who might say you're injury prone?
I mean, that's fair. I've had an injury each one of my years here. I've had two ankle surgeries, so I can't say, 'Oh, you're wrong! I never got injured!' So, I'd think the same thing about me, if I was looking at somebody who got injured this many times. You just have to look at it how it is. I know God will take me the right places. I don't even care if I get drafted one, two or three. . . or even in the first round if it's not God's plan for me. I'm just taking it how it is and I'm just out here for the ride.
Most of the injuries seem like they were flukey injuries, though.
Yeah, I mean the first one, I put my foot in a hole at LSU. I mean, who puts their foot in a hole in the infield, or the outfield, or whatever? And my second one, my foot just caught on a good field and I just rolled my ankle. It was two different injuries and stuff like that, but oh well. . . it's just a part of the game.
All players have things they can work on. What are you working to improve this year?
I think my speed. I've got a lot more stolen bases this year from the pace I was on last year. I've always wanted to improve my speed. I've never been like the fastest guy out there, but I always want to be the best at everything. So, I've been working on having quick feet and getting better jumps on the bases. And, I've been walking a lot, so I've had a lot of chances to do that!
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