The Washington Times - July 19, 2012, 03:05PM

Anthony Rendon’s professional career was a total of two games and four at-bats old before the Nationals’ No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft collapsed in a heap around third base and fractured his left ankle.

He’s been rehabbing ever since, and while he told a Texas newspaper he was probably done for the season a few months ago, the Nationals always planned for him to return to action in July.

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That plan held true on Thursday as Rendon appeared in a Gulf Coast League game for the Nationals, leading off, playing third base and going 0-for-2. He was replaced after three innings.

Rendon can stay on a minor league rehab assignment with the GCL Nats for 20 days, so it’s conceivable that he’ll play with one of the Nationals’ other affiliates again this season.

The No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Rendon really only fell to the Nationals at that slot because of injury — a strained shoulder that plagued him throughout his final season at rice and mostly prohibited him from playing the field and sapped some of his power.

But it is his right ankle injuries that most remember.

Rendon tore ligaments in the ankle in 2009, which required surgery, and he was playing for Team USA in the summer of 2010 when suffered a severe ankle break on the basepaths. 

Rendon’s professional career was off to a strong start as the third baseman was 2-for-4 with a triple in his first major league at-bat on Friday and had doubled before the injury occurred on Saturday. 

His sweet swing drew raves from Nationals officials and players alike during his time in major league camp this spring and most expect him to move quickly through the Nationals’ system. It’s unclear how much the time missed in his first pro season will affect that timetable.