WASHINGTON — Trea Turner is set to make his center field debut for the Nationals against the Indians, a surprise announced with Tuesday’s lineup. Turner will lead off, followed by Bryce Harper in the order.
Turner took some center field reps during his last minor league stint, but Nationals manager Dusty Baker was reluctant to test Turner in a similar capacity at the big league level once he was recalled.
“Right now, Trea has to fit in where he get in,” Baker said in the first week of July. “Right now, there’s no real place for Trea to take. This isn’t a tryout camp. This is try to play the best team overall to win the game and win the pennant. Hopefully Trea will be a part of that while he’s here.”
GM Mike Rizzo was clear of his intentions, when Turner began playing in center field at Class-AAA Syracuse, that the position switch was a means to present Turner as a more versatile lineup option to Baker.
“Since the guys that we have at the position that he plays are playing extremely well,” Rizzo said on 106.7 The Fan, “we figured to get him in the big leagues sooner rather than later, we need to make him more versatile.”
Turner is batting .282 with one double, three triples and four stolen bases. He has dazzled with his game-changing speed, reaching a Nationals-best 22.7 miles per hour on one of those triples, a unique tool Washington is surely happy find room for in its lineup.