WASHINGTON — Trea Turner is making the most of his opportunities in his second call up to the big leagues this season.
The 23-year-old first round pick is hitting .318 in 23 plate appearances. While Turner has struggled at the plate in his latest stint with the Nationals — he’s hitting .211 with six strikeouts in last 19 plate appearances — he has flashed the tools which have helped fast-track him to the majors.
Rookies will make mistakes, though, as Turner did on the base path late in Sunday’s 18-inning loss to the Pirates.
With the score tied 1-1, Turner hit a clean single at Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte in left field to lead off the bottom of the 17th inning. When Marte pulled up casually with the ball, Turner — who was rounding first base at the time — pushed his luck by going for two. Marte gunned Turner down at second base for the first out. It was a valuable lesson learned — raw speed isn’t always enough at this level.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asked about that baserunning mistake, as part of the Burke & Herbert Bank ‘Fan Question of the Week,’ during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance with The Sports Junkies on Wednesday.
Do the players police themselves, like when Trea Turner gets thrown out trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double in extra innings? Do the vets exact some sort of clubhouse justice on Turner? — Matt in D.C.
“Wow. That sounded very serious there, didn’t it?” Rizzo joked. “I’m not going to call it clubhouse justice or whatever that means, but, yeah, the veterans will pull him aside and tell him whatever they feel like they have to tell him.
“But also in that instance, Davey Lopes — who handles our base running — and Dusty will pull him aside and probably congratulate him for his hustle, but also say, ‘Hey, we have to be smart about it and see what the situation is, but we commend your hustle,’ and that type of thing.”
“That’s how we’re built this year,” he added. “We’re a very aggressive base-running team. We are very successful going first-to-third, and second-to-home and taking the extra base. We’re one of the better running teams in all of baseball and we’ve got several of the best baserunners on the club. It’s part of our DNA — we’re going to push the envelope, and put pressure on teams and make them throw us out.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Junkies host Eric Bickel said, “but I thought I read Dusty’s lips and he said, ‘I like that.'”
“We both liked it. We discussed it after the game,” Rizzo said. “The same thing with Clint Robinson going to third on a ball that fell right in front of the catcher. They throw it into left field and we get a run out of it. So, you keep putting pressure on guys and you keep hustling and good things happen. That’s the way we play and credit that to Dusty and Davey Lopes and the aggressiveness of the players.”
So, to recap, they appreciated Turner’s hustle, but need him to be more cognizant of the game situation.