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Will Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez help Trea Turner realize his full base-stealing potential?

Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez wants Trea Turner to run ... a lot.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Trea Turner, 25, played in all 162 games last season, starting in 158. Turner finished his fourth big league campaign with a .271/.344/.416 line, an NL high 43 stolen bases, in 52 attempts, and career-highs in doubles (27), home runs (19), runs scored (103), and RBIs (73), with 105 wRC+ in 740 plate appearances in what ended up being a 4.8 fWAR season, which was the third-highest fWAR among NL shortstops in 2018.

Turner’s manager, Davey Martinez, was asked this week if he should have dialed it back a bit with the shortstop, and maybe rested him a little more than he did?

“I would have liked to have given him more days off,” Martinez said, “but we talked about it a lot, and I said, ‘Hey, I want to give you a day off,’ and he’d fight me on it, and the days I did give him off obviously he went and played the game, and I told him that, ‘Just because you have a day off don’t mean — I said, ‘You’d better look at it like half a day.’ But I would like to give him a day off now and then, but then again, that all depends on how he’s feeling and how he’s doing.”

Martinez has talked often about being smarter on the basepaths overall, not giving up outs, and he’s also talked during the first week in West Palm Beach about getting Turner to a new level in his baserunning game.

“He’s exciting,” the second-year skipper said. “We let the reins go when he’s going, he’s on his own, he can steal when he wants, he knows that. I kind of put the pressure on him a little bit about maybe having more attempts. If you look at the best baserunners to ever play the game, those guys had 90-100 attempts every year, and last year he had [52] and he stole [43] bases, so we want him to go more, and I think the more he goes, the more bases he’ll steal, but he’s exciting and he’s getting better at shortstop. I told everybody last year, and I really believe that he was an All-Star, and he’s going to be an All-Star, because he keeps improving.

“I see him now and he’s all in. He’s the one guy in camp right now that I’m watching and he’s jacked up, he’s ready to go and he’s excited about it.”

How many stolen bases does he envision Turner (who’s career-high is 46 in 54 attempts in 2017) taking in 2019?

“I don’t know about the bases,” he said, “but I told him I want a little bit more attempts. I think if he attempts 75-80 we’ll be in great shape.”

Martinez said he wants to see the infielder build on what he did last season, and he added that he’s challenged Turner as well.

“I challenged him to win a Gold Glove,” the manager explained, “and just keep continuing to get on base and work good at bats. And then I said as far as stealing, I said, ‘You’re going to steal a lot more bases if you attempt a lot more stolen bases. Last year he had [52]. If he gets up to that 75, attempts 75 times, he’ll steal 65-70 bases, and that would be great, if he does anything more than that it would be great.”

Where will the focus be as they try to get Turner to potentially double his stolen base total?

Turner talked last season about some of the differences with Tim Bogar coaching first base after two years under base-stealing guru Davey Lopes.

“[Bogar] lets us go,” Turner said. “I think it’s a little bit more analytical. He gives us more stats than Davey did. Davey was a little bit more old school, but everyone’s different and the way Bogar has given us the stats has allowed us to maybe expand our game a little bit, because we never had that with Davey. He kind of lets us do our thing, whereas Davey would kind of yell at us if we didn’t go, so it’s a little bit different style, but I think there are definitely positives.”

“We’ll talk about his leads and different things like that,” Martinez continued.

“The biggest thing for me is a lot of times last year he stole the base and over-slid the base.”

“And that was kind of a little concern last year,” he added, “... and we’re trying to work this Spring on getting him to slide directly to the base, instead of like he likes to slide headfirst and around the base like that and that’s when he usually comes off.”

Will not batting (and getting on base) in front of Bryce Harper (assuming he doesn’t end up back in D.C.) make it easier for Turner to run more freely?

“We’ve had this conversation, and I told him, as a hitter, would you rather the guy be on first base or would you rather the guy be on second base where you get a base hit and you have a chance to drive in a run?” Martinez asked. “For me, I’d rather the guy be on second base. Now, there are some times where we do want the hitter to hit, give him a chance to hit, and he understands that, but when he gets on base he makes things happen, he really does.

“And for us, and I talk about this all time, as baserunners we want to be on third base with less than two outs, he really understands that and what it means to this ballclub.”

How did Martinez, who stole 183 bases total in his 16 seasons in the majors evolve as a base stealer as his career went along?

If he did, how did he get better at reading pitchers and their pickoff moves as he got more experience?

“There are certain keys that you look for, whether it’s the head, the shoulder, the toe, the heel, different things like that,” Martinez explained.

“These are all things that we’re going to hone in on and work on during the Spring and try to help these guys understand that certain guys — especially now with all the different information and video that’s out there, that we can pick up little things from different pitchers and hone in on just that one thing and not kind of look at an array of everything, so when you go out there you’re actually teaching him, ‘Hey, this guy, when he comes to first base he keeps his toe down. When he goes home, his heel points towards you.’ So we’ll look at all those things and give him the information and let him go.

“The other thing that Trea does really well is he knows the people that he really can steal off of, and when you see those days he’s very aggressive on those days.”