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Nationals' lineup for the series opener with the Indians: Trea Turner makes MLB debut in center field

The Washington Nationals got him some reps in center in the minors so they had more options at the major league level and tonight in the series opener with the Cleveland Indians, Trea Turner will make his MLB debut in the outfield...

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When the Washington Nationals decided to give Trea Turner some time in center at Triple-A for the first time late last month, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters about the thinking behind giving the potential shortstop of the future time in the outfield.

With things going well in the middle infield at the major league level, Rizzo explained, it made sense to give Dusty Baker's options when it came to his lineup.

"We feel that offensively [Turner is] major league ready, and defensively he's come a long way as a shortstop," Rizzo said.

"Danny [Espinosa is] playing extremely well at shortstop up here. We've got a full roster of really qualified quality players at the big league level.

"But [Turner's] a guy that we would like to see here in the big leagues help us at the big league level.

"If we could make him more versatile and more valuable to us and play multiple positions, I think that just adds to his value. Seeing him take balls off the bat, just goofing around in some batting practices, he's got quick-twitch muscles, he's got great first step in the infield.

"We think that with a little work, he could be a guy that we could put out in centerfield if we have to. It makes him more versatile, and gives the manager more options to put a really good offensive player in there that can run and help you in a lot of different aspects of the game."

"We implemented it when our outfield instructor Gary Thurman went over to Triple-A, and he's been doing it for three or four days now. "

"We think that he can handle the position, or we wouldn't put him in a game, even in Triple-A in the outfield. He worked three days with Gary Thurman, Gary gave his seal of approval that he'd be able to handle the position. So now it's just a matter of getting him reps out there and getting a feel for the position."

In a recent MLB Network Radio interview, Rizzo said he thought Turner was ready to play center when and if it was necessary.

"I think that you may see him see what he can do in center field. He's never played it in the big leagues, obviously, but we're going to ease him in slowly there, because it's so tough to be a young rookie not only preparing to play offensively but to play defensively at a position you've never played and learning at the big league-level is difficult, but if anybody can do it, he can do it, because he's an extreme athlete with a great skill set, so I feel confident wherever we play him he's going to have an impact on the game."

With Ben Revere and Michael A. Taylor, who was sent to Triple-A on Sunday, struggling to produce at the top of the lineup the Nationals have apparently decided that it's time to experiment with Turner in center and at the top of the order.

Turner's going to make his MLB debut in center tonight in the series opener in Progressive Field: