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Will Trea Turner be the Washington Nationals' Opening Day shortstop?

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Both Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo and new Nats' skipper Dusty Baker talked to reporters on Tuesday about what the future holds for 22-year-old shortstop Trea Turner. Will he start the season in D.C.?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo was asked on Monday if the Nats' Opening Day shortstop was on the roster right now?

Is it Trea Turner?

Will Yunel Escobar move back to short after spending his first season in D.C. at third base?

Will the Nationals put Danny Espinosa, who was drafted as a shortstop back there now that Ian Desmond is out of the picture? Who's it going to be?

"Sometimes it's dangerous to rush that player, because I've seen some guys get rushed and then they're never the same because this is the first time they've ever failed..." -Dusty Baker on potential dangers of rushing prospects

His answer?

"I have a comfort level that if today were Opening Day, we have our shortstop on the roster and feel good about it," Rizzo said.

So who is it? Who is going to be the shortstop when the season starts?

"There are several of them," Rizzo said, declining to assign positions in December.

"Several opportunities and that's why we have Spring Training and we'll figure out where each player fits. But we are strong and deep up the middle and that's a good place to be."

In an MLB Network Radio interview on Tuesday afternoon, new Nationals' manager Dusty Baker was asked if Turner, the top infield prospect in the organization, was going to be the Nats' shortstop on Opening Day?

"Is Turner ready?" Baker was asked.

"I can tell you've done your homework," he told host Cliff Floyd.

"That's the same questions that I'm asking. Because I don't know Trea Turner. I've seen more of [Michael] Taylor than I've seen of Trea Turner. Our organization loves him, it's just a matter of if everybody feels that he's ready and sometimes you may have a need, but sometimes it's dangerous to rush that player, because I've seen some guys get rushed and then they're never the same because this is the first time they've ever failed. That's devastating to some people to fail.

"Now it helps other people, but you don't know which one it's going to hurt and which one it's going to help."

Though the Nats were known to have interest in signing Ben Zobrist to play second base before the veteran utility man agreed on a four-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, Rizzo said he was happy with the in-house options for both middle infield positions.

"We've got good depth at the shortstop position," he said.

"I think he has to prove consistency, defensive consistency and just logging some at bats. [Don't] forget, he only played one full season of professional baseball out of college..." -Mike Rizzo on what Trea Turner still has to prove

"We feel comfortable that Danny Espinosa, [Yunel] Escobar, Trea Turner, [Wilmer] Difo can all play shortstop and second base so we feel good about where we're at in the middle infield."

What about some of the rumors that the Nationals might be interested in signing or acquiring a shortstop who could play the position until Turner's ready?

"No, we have not discussed any short-term, stopgap, shortstops, no," Rizzo said.

So how close is Turner to being ready to play in the majors on an everyday basis? What does he still have to prove?

"I think he has to prove consistency, defensive consistency and just logging some at bats," Rizzo told reporters.

"[Don't] forget, he only played one full season of professional baseball out of college, so he's been on a whirlwind tour of the development system and obviously he's got tremendous talent that allows him to do that and he's handled it terrifically."

And the chances of Turner opening the season at short?

"I don't rule anything out," Rizzo said.

Turner, a 2014 1st Round pick by the San Diego Padres, was acquired by Washington in last winter's three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He joined the Nationals in June, after he could be dealt under the since-changed rules regarding the trading of draft picks within a year after they sign.

In 116 games total between Double-A in the Padres and Nationals' systems and Triple-A with the Nats, Turner put up a combined .322/.370/.458 line with 24 doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 29 stolen bases in 35 attempts.

Turner made his major league debut in August and played a total of 27 games with the Nationals, going 9 for 40 with a double and a home run in 44 PAs.

He was scheduled to go to the Arizona Fall League after that, but Washington did not ultimately send him to the so-called "finishing school" for the game's top prospects.

"We felt that he was better served going with his personal trainer and working out rather than going to the Fall League and having more at bats," Rizzo explained on Tuesday.

"We figured that because he played more at the end here in the big leagues that that made up for the at bats. He had plenty of at bats for his first full, professional season."

When was the decision made to not send Turner to the AFL?

"The last two weeks actually before the end of it kind of changed the plans that we felt that his time would be better served resting for a while then beginning his workouts rather than going to the Fall League," Rizzo said.

Over the last two weeks of the regular season, Turner began to get more regular at bats after he was used sparingly at first.

In his final 32 PAs, he put up a .276/.344/.414 line, connecting for his first extra base hit and home run and giving fans in D.C. a glimpse of what he can do on an everyday basis.

Will the Nationals start him in the minors to get him more at bats and hold him back long enough to guarantee an extra year of team control before he reaches free agency?

Or will the Nats' shortstop of the future start the season in the Nationals' lineup?