Dusty Baker penciled Trea Turner in in the No. 2 spot in Turner’s return to the starting lineup on Saturday, (after Turner drew a big, bases-loaded walk in a pinch hit at bat late in extra innings on Friday night, forcing in the winning run Washington’s 4-3 win over the New York Mets).
Baker did, however, inform reporters that the decision to move Turner out of the leadoff spot he’d started the season in for the Nationals was likely only temporary.
“Turner’s a game-changer,” Baker explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman before Saturday’s game.
“He can create havoc. I’m doing it this time because he hasn’t played. And I’m not really convinced that his leg is 100 percent. I know that there are those that want it like this, but it’s going to limit Trea’s ability to run batting in front of [Bryce Harper].
Because if he steals, they’re just gonna walk him. It’ll help out [Daniel] Murphy, but it won’t help out Harp. So this is for the sake of, it’s better than not having him in the lineup.”
Turner told reporters on Friday night that it felt good to get back on the field after a right hamstring strain landed him on the DL back on April 9th.
“I felt great,” Turner said. “I felt like I was doing stuff all game to stay warm, but kind of looking back at it I almost felt that I didn’t really need to. I felt normal, didn’t feel stiff or tired or anything. It feels good to be back.”
“Felt good, felt fun to be back out there, and good win.”
Before Saturday’s game, Baker seemed more confident that Turner’s hamstring was healed.
“He’s only 15, he’ll heal like that,” Baker said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. He also noted that he would be able to tell if Turner was a step slow or holding back.
“Especially after your first injury, you have to get past the psychological part of being hurt for the first time,” he said.
In Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Mets, Turner went 2 for 5, driving in a run and scoring the eventual winning run. He also forced an error on a grounder back to the mound when Mets’ lefty Jerry Blevins rushed a throw trying to get Turner at first.
“He looked good to me,” Baker said after the win. “Again, he forces mistakes. He forced that mistake on that ball back to Blevins which he threw wildly to first and that could have gotten a couple more runs. It’s good to see Trea out there and I’m sure every day he’s going to start feeling better and better.”
For now, however, Turner is still batting second. Here’s the lineup for tonight’s series finale in Citi Field: