Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies earlier this week that the team would reevaluate shortstop Trea Turner after the infielder, who went on the Injured List early with a broken right index finger on April 3rd, played a few games with the Potomac Nationals on a rehab stint.
“He’s rehabbing in the minor leagues so he’s on the horizon and shouldn’t be too far away and that’s going to be a huge impact for us,” Rizzo said.
“You’re talking about one of the best two-way players in the game,” the GM continued.
“He locks down our defense in the most important position on the infield and is kind of the captain of the defense, and also gives you a great offensive performance at the plate.
“He’s been a huge loss. Let’s not forget, we’ve had him for a total of four games this season, so we’re excited to get him back and to kind of get whole and see what transpires after that and see what type of team we really have and see if we can get a little bit of momentum.”
Asked then for a potential timeline for Turner’s return, Rizzo said it would depend on how the 25-year-old shortstop’s finger reacted.
“We’ve got him scheduled — we’re going to take a look at him after his game on Thursday and see where he’s at as far as how the finger feels and what he’s done,” Rizzo explained.
“He had four good at bats yesterday. He played the full nine innings at shortstop, made several plays in the field, made one really good backhanded play, jump-throw type of thing that he’s kind of famous for.”
The throwing is the concern at this point, Rizzo said, since the injury was to his throwing hand.
“Because it’s the index finger on his right hand, throwing ... is the last thing to come, so he looked like he had good carry and good velocity on his throws, and if we continue to see that, we’ll go and reach for him and see if he can help us at the big league level, but we have to make sure that he’s prepared and major league-ready and ready to endure the every day-ness of the major league season because once he gets here we want him to play every day quite a bit. He played 162 games last year, so he’s a guy who wants to play all the time, and he needs to hit the ground running when he’s back here and be ready to play every day.”
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters before the series finale with the Mets on Thursday that just getting Turner used to the speed of the game after all this time off was a big step.
“He was able to do a lot of stuff: train, condition, run, stood on the velo machine, you know, and worked on his timing,” Martinez explained, “and then when he was able to the baseball activities, he’s been hitting off that velo machine for the last week, and getting his timing down, the biggest thing is you don’t necessarily see spin, breaking balls and stuff, so he did a little bit of that now, and he got to play two games. So he says he feels good. Now, like I said, the biggest thing now is the game speed. That’s why we want him to go down there and play, so he’s out in the field, sitting down, getting up, getting in the game, getting balls hit at him at 100 MPH, and just catching up and playing that game speed. I think that’s the big difference, is how quick the game goes and you don’t realize it after missing so much time. Even missing 10 days, the game is quick.”
Martinez said Turner worked out with the team and they were going to give him a day to rest up and see how he felt, but the second-year skipper said he was looking forward to having Turner back in the big league lineup.
“The one constant with Trea is his speed,” he said. “When he gets on base he makes things happen, and his defense. His defense is really, really good, so just getting him back in the lineup and getting him going again will be a nice sight to see.”