Dusty Baker has talked often about how the league will continually adjust and how important it is that you’re able to make your own adjustments.
Trea Turner will go through some tough times as the league gets to know him better, but how the 23-year-old Washington Nationals’ infielder/outfielder has been able to adjust thus far has impressed his veteran skipper.
Before Tuesday night’s game, the Nationals’ manager was asked about Turner’s 0 for 4 game in the series opener with the Baltimore Orioles, which saw Turner walk in one plate appearance, steal a base and score a run but also strike out three times.
Was he expanding his zone at times and chasing pitches?
“You don’t know if it’s him expanding or them expanding him,’’ Baker said.
“This is the big leagues. They don’t want to walk him and they don’t want to throw him anything too good to hit either. And so what happens when you’re a young player, and a kid, plus an aggressive player, you don’t want to take his aggressiveness away, have him taking good pitches and swinging at bad pitches, but the thing about it is they play on your youth.”
“RIght now he’s an underclassman playing with upperclassmen. And those guys have seen quite a few hitters and they go to school on you. They have videos, they have advance scouts, they have everybody that’s trying to recognize your weakness and what your kryptonite may be and try to exploit it.”
It’s Turner’s job to adjust in turn, of course.
He bounced back from his hitless outing in the series opener with the O’s with a 4 for 4 night in the second game of the Nationals’ four-game home-and-home series with the Orioles in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Turner singled in each of his first two plate appearances, doubled the third time up and added a fourth single late to set a career-high in hits early in his career.
“Got lucky in a couple at-bats but overall I felt better,” Turner told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr after the game.
“I felt pretty good in my last two at-bats last night. I feel like I always make the adjustment, eventually, it’s just a matter of when. I expect to come in every day and either repeat what I did yesterday or tinker just a little bit and make the small adjustment that I feel like I need to for success.”
Unfortunately, he was also caught stealing after each of his first two hits on calls that were overturned when he was initially ruled safe only to have replays show that tags were applied to his legs before he reached the bag, sliding in headfirst in each instance.
Neither Turner or Baker were happy with the replays, though the calls appeared to be right in the end.
More importantly, however, the manager explained, Turner didn’t let the calls affect him.
“It’s frustrating for Trea,” Baker acknowledged, “but I was glad Trea did try a second time and not get shut down because he got thrown out one time. He had the bags but the throws were inside the line.
“It’s called stealing. Like I said before, you’re going to get caught sometimes but I urge him to run. They’re not going to throw him out that often.”
Thus far this season, he’s stolen bases in 14 of 17 attempts, after going 25 for 27 in 83 games at Triple-A Syracuse.
Baker talked after the game about being impressed with what he’s seen from Turner, who ended the night with a .320/.346/.356 line, nine doubles, six triples and four home runs in 36 games and 162 plate appearances in the majors.
“This is a young man that’s very determined,” Baker said.
“Failure doesn’t exist with him evidently because most guys that would’ve struck out three times, they’d be passive and not very aggressive the next night. You got to give him credit for having some gumption and having some fight.”
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