MIAMI — Stephen Drew, not Anthony Rendon, stepped into the on-deck circle behind Daniel Murphy in the top of the fifth inning Monday, and in so doing replaced a key cog in the Nationals’ lineup. Rendon, Dusty Baker said later, suffered a stinger in his neck while diving for a ball in the third inning. He is day-to-day.
“We think he’ll be okay tomorrow,” Baker said. “He’s never had that before. Scared him, scared us, you know when you’ve got that pain in your neck.”
The injury occurred when Rendon dove for a groundball hit by Giancarlo Stanton, a ball he ultimately stopped though could not throw across in time to get the Marlins slugger. Rendon sat on the ground for nearly a minute after the attempt and appeared to examine his left arm, which he reached out to stop the hit before throwing from the ground. Rendon stayed in the game after the play, but was removed after another defensive inning in which he followed a foul pop-up into the stands and could not catch it.
“Just a little jolt in my neck, a little whiplash maybe,” Rendon said afterward. “Nothing too serious. I think we’re trying to be a little cautious. It didn’t feel too good the next two innings after that.”
Asked whether he thought he’d be able to play Tuesday, Rendon joked that he will “probably go on the 60-day” disabled list. He was, however, clearly joking — though he did admit some concern over his first neck injury.
“Haven’t gotten in a car wreck or nothing,” Rendon said. “But it was definitely a little nerve-racking, little scary. A lot of heat in my neck, little [swelling]. We’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow.”
Drew replaced Rendon and provided a go-ahead double, which will be little consolation to the Nationals should Rendon miss any significant time. A seemingly harmless spring training dive cost Rendon nearly all of camp and more than two…