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Rendon: Baseball's 'never been a top priority for me'

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon admitted Monday that baseball - the sport he's played professionally since 2012 - isn't usually at the forefront of his mind.

"It's never been a top priority for me," Rendon told Sam Blum of The Athletic on Monday. "This is a job. I do this to make a living. My faith, my family come first before this job. So if those things come before it, I'm leaving."

Rendon added: "(But) it's a priority for sure. Because it's my job. I'm here, aren't I?"

Rendon's comments come almost a month after he stirred up controversy with a suggestion - potentially made in jest - that MLB should shorten its season. That remark led former big-league closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was teammates with Rendon on the Washington Nationals for two seasons, to suggest that the two-time Silver Slugger winner "literally hates baseball."

The 33-year-old Rendon has drawn criticism for his play since signing a seven-year, $245-million contract with the Angels in 2020. He's played just 200 games in four seasons with the club because of a litany of injuries while posting an OPS above .800 just once, during the shortened 2020 campaign. Last year was the worst of his career, as he put up a .678 OPS with only two homers in 43 games along with minus-five defensive runs saved at third.

Rendon, who missed time last year due to groin, wrist, and shin injuries, took issue with the perception some fans have of him based on his Angels tenure.

"They don't know me. They only know the surface area there," he told Blum. "They're a fan, right? They might know that I'm 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, but they don't know who I am as an individual.

"Barry Bonds is arguably the greatest player to ever play this game, and people still hate him. You can't make everybody happy. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. I don't want to have surgeries. You think I like going under the knife and being in pain the majority of my time? I can't pick up my kids. I can't walk. You think I enjoy that? I don't want to do that."

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