- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - The struggling Washington Nationals welcomed back an important part of their offense Thursday night.

Infielder Anthony Rendon was activated from the disabled list by the Nationals and was set to make his season debut at second base in the opener of a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

The 24-year-old missed the first 53 games while recovering from a left knee sprain and then a left oblique strain.

“I had a frustrating first couple of months,” Rendon said.

Rendon hit .287 with 39 doubles, 21 home runs, 83 RBIs and 111 runs last year, when he finished fifth in NL MVP voting. He batted .250 during an eight-game injury rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Harrisburg.

He rejoins a Washington team that had lost five of six while scoring a total of 14 runs.

Rendon, who played 134 games at third base last season, got hurt in spring training, and Yunel Escobar moved from second to third. Manager Matt Williams said Escobar “has adapted fairly well to third base” and will remain there. Rendon will go back to second, where he played primarily before last season.

“You hesitate to say anything about an everyday lineup, given what’s gone on so far the first couple of months here, so we’ll leave it at that,” Williams said of the Nationals’ injuries.

Rendon was OK with the decision to move him back to the other side of the diamond.

“I always tell the guys I feel the most comfortable with a bat in my hand,” he said, “so as long as I’m out here to help the team, that’s what I’m here for.”

Washington also recalled right-hander A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse for his third big league stint this year. The 23-year-old has a 5.79 ERA with one save in three games for the Nationals/

The Nationals optioned right-handed pitcher Taylor Jordan to their top farm club and infielder Wilmer Difo to Harrisburg.

Difo, 23, appeared in five games in his first big league assignment, batting .200 (1 for 5). The 26-year-old Jordan appeared in two games for the Nationals during his second 2015 stint. He went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in one start and one relief appearance.

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