Anthony Rendon is hitless. Should Angels fans cheer him?

Luis Rengifo was a clear upgrade at the top of the scoreboard for the Angels on Wednesday in Miami, leading off the game with a double. It was the first hit by an Angels leadoff hitter this season, and it sparked a 10-2 victory.

Anthony Rendon led off first in the first five games and went 0 for 19. The oft-criticized and often-injured third baseman had struck first only 35 times in the previous 1,116 games major leagues, but new manager Ron Washington felt it was worth it.

Sticking to this plan will test Washington’s patience. Earlier, he didn’t seem completely convinced by his own idea.

“This game is all about adjustments. … If it works, it works,” he said. “If not, we can modify it again.”

Rendon, a 12-year veteran who had a scheduled day off Wednesday, is notoriously unenthusiastic. He was praised for his seemingly slow heart rate and composure in 2019 when he led the Washington Nationals to a World Series title.

Yet his heart was called into question in Anaheim because he only played in 148 of a possible 486 games after signing a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Angels following that championship season.

Yes, he has had injuries, but his motivation seems to fluctuate. Rendon came under fire six weeks ago for saying on a podcast that baseball had “never been a top priority for me.” It’s a work. I do this to earn a living. Well, my family comes before this work. So if these things happen before then, I’m leaving.

His slow start to the season has not really appeased the critics, especially on social networks. Rendon’s last hit came nine months ago on July 3 against the San Diego Padres. It’s the latest in a series of bad contracts handed out by the Angels, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2009 despite spending more than $1 billion on free agents, including $240 million to Albert Pujols, $125 million to Josh Hamilton, another half a billion in two contracts to Mike Trout and, of course, the $245 million to Rendon.

The batting lead seemed to be Washington’s way to engage Rendon early in games and the season. Rendon seemed on board.

“I love it,” he said before the second game of the season. “I’m ready for everything. I trust Wash. I trust all of this staff and everything that puts us in the best position to win. I completely agree. I think we’re all on the same page, all our guys up and down the order.

Others delivered, with the Angels winning four in a row after starting with two losses. They begin a home game Friday night against the Boston Red Sox.

Some fans have suggested Rendon take inspiration from the Philadelphia Phillies for motivation. Bryce Harper, a player whose motivation is never in question, went on an 0-for-11 season-opening skid by hitting three home runs in a single game.

And Phillies fans remember that last season they boosted the morale of well-paid but struggling shortstop Trea Turner by giving him an unexpected standing ovation.

Turner immediately broke down in tears and helped the Phillies to the brink of the World Series. Could Angels fans surprise Rendon with a standing ovation in his first at-bat in front of a home crowd this season?

The Angel-centric X account “Not Mickey Moniak” is giving it a try, assignment: “Join us Friday, April 5 to give Rendon a standing ovation in his first at-bat. Help us show our support for Rendon and let him know we’re behind him this season!

Perhaps Rendon would respond to a show of support – if that happens. It’s his responsibility to show Angels fans that he cares about playing and winning.

Fans across town should be grateful that Rendon made it clear as a free agent in 2019 that he did not want to play for the Dodgers. A contingent of the team traveled to Rendon’s hometown of Houston to meet with him and came away convinced they had no chance of signing him.

For what? Rendon didn’t want to attract attention. In his mind, Dodger Stadium is too close to Hollywood. Anaheim was quite far away.

“As far as how we heard about the organization, whether it was the Hollywood lifestyle or otherwise, it just didn’t seem like it would be a good fit for us as a family,” a- he declared at the time. . “Nothing against them as an organization. …But at the end of the day, it was what we thought was best for our family.

“When people think of California, they think of pure Hollywood, this glamorous lifestyle, lots of flashes and so many paparazzi. But everyone said it was just the opposite” in Orange County.

And Rendon has been the complete opposite of the player the Angels thought they signed. His contract runs through the 2026 season, giving him plenty of time to flip the narrative again, with or without a lead.

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