Once the Washington Nationals’ most exciting prospect, Trea Turner is now a part of the furniture in the nation’s capital.
The 27-year-old is the second longest-serving National on the active roster with Ryan Zimmerman opting out of the 2020 MLB season (behind only Michael A. Taylor).
And if that doesn’t make you feel old, then Turner’s current double-play partner might do that.
After Starlin Castro broke his wrist, the Nats turned to 20-year-old Luis García to take the reins at second base. He was the first hitter born in the 2000s to play in the major leagues, so all his firsts at this level are the firsts for the next generation of big league hitters.
García is also the first player younger than Turner to stand across from him at second base.
Since Turner became the full-time shortstop in 2017, there’s been plenty of turnover opposite him at second. It’s not easy to have that much change on the other side of the base, but García has impressed him and he’s hoping that can provide stability there.
“I feel like every year I’ve kind of had a different guy for the most part,” Turner said. “I’ve always said we’re professionals, and we know kind what to expect. Obviously a little bit of experience helps, in the sense that you get to know where the ball is coming from, and how they deliver the baseball to one another, but for the most part, if you hit each other in the chest you’re going to turn more double plays. It’s a matter of just working with each other.”
“[García]’s smooth, he’s really good out there, so I have faith in him, he’s made some nice plays already, and just keep moving forward.”
For Turner, with García seven years his junior, he’s taken the time to mentor his fellow infielder.
During the team’s last series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Turner took the time with García to go over how he would tag a runner attempting to steal second base.
“I’ve been talking to him a lot trying to figure out if he understands everything I’m saying, and he says, ‘Yes,’ so hopefully I’m translating well,” Turner said after the game.
“But we’ve been talking about the stolen base and tagging out the runner and like I said, I’m here for him, and I’ll offer what I think is advice, and it’s his job to decipher whether or not he likes it or not. And I told him today, I said, ‘Hey, this is what I do, this is what I like. If you like it go for it, if you don’t tell me to piss off,’ type of deal. I’m just trying to talk to him and have a conversation, and he’s a good player.
“He’s going to be in there for us, he had a great game today. And just trying to talk him through what I like to do and see if he likes it as well.”
While García is the youngest player in the league, for the Nationals he’s just the latest in the next generation of players who have made their way to the big leagues over the past couple of years, signaling the start of a new window for the franchise.
Those young players have impressed Turner and he’s excited to see them develop together.
“It’s [García] and Juan [Soto] and Carter [Kieboom],” Turner said. “They just play baseball and they know where to go with the ball, what decisions to make, obviously they’ll make mistakes here and there, but they learn quick, and you can see from Luis that he’s made a lot of good plays, and it’s just that natural instinct that he has, and sometimes you can’t teach that.
“Sometimes it takes a lot of experience. But these guys like I said, at a young age they’ve learned a lot and they can play at this level. We’re going to expect that out of them.”
During the team’s transition period this season, the team’s skipper has noticed that Turner has begun to grow more into a leadership role with the team over the course of the year.
“He’s matured a lot,” Dave Martinez explained. “He understands the game, and now he’s become a teacher of the game. He sees all these young guys around him, Carter playing next to him, Luis García playing next to him. So, he’s trying to be that mentor for those guys, as well as understand the big picture of what happens throughout a game.”
This offseason, the Nationals should be looking to sit down with Turner and his agent to try and hash out a contract extension. Doing so would keep him as one of the centerpieces of the incoming young core and tie down a natural leader at a key position long-term.
If the Nats have their way and can get it done, they will have Turner mentoring and turning double plays with the team’s latest young phenom in García for several more years...