Trea Turner missed all four games with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend, after he jammed a finger on his left hand sliding headfirst into third on a cycle-completing triple last Wednesday afternoon on the nation’s capital. Turner sat for four games, but was penciled in for the series opener with the San Diego Padres last night.
The first time up against Padres’ right-hander Joe Musgrove, Turner hit a 94+ MPH first-pitch fastball out to left for a one-out home run, sending his 15th home run of the season, and his fourth home run in the last five games, out 410 feet for a no-doubter of a homer and first of two hits in a 2 for 4 (HR, BB) game.
The four home runs in five games come after a stretch in which he hit just one in 37.
How did the finger feel last night?
“Pretty good,” Turner said in a post game Zoom call with reporters.
“Still a little sore here and there, but overall feel confident in being able to play, and right now it feels pretty good, so hopefully tomorrow bounce back and don’t hit any bumps and then we’ll keep going.”
And stepping right back in and hitting the first pitch he saw out of the field of play in Petco Park?
“I think it’s just — just being kind of like locked in and knowing where I was at beforehand,” the recently-turned 28-year-old shortstop said. “I didn’t do very much in the last four days, I basically tried resting as much as possible and trying not to beat on it. I didn’t really do much timing stuff. Just felt like I was in a good spot beforehand and felt consistent and just try to keep doing what I was doing four days ago, and I think it’s a little bit of luck getting a good pitch to hit and this and that, but just felt good before and just trying to repeat that.”
His manager and teammates were impressed with Turner’s ability to jump right back into things.
“It was awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said after the club’s 7-5 win over the Padres. “I mean, like I said, we talked to him before the game, we watched him swing, he said he felt pretty good, and he came through for us tonight.
“Not only the home run, but he got another hit, a big hit for us as well.”
Turner’s second hit was base-loading single with one out in the second which set Juan Soto up with an RBI opportunity he cashed in with a sac fly, before Josh Bell singled to drive in a run as well.
Turner has hits in five straight games now and he has hits in 14 of his last 17 games overall, with a .403/.459/.746 line over that stretch.
“He’s one of the big pieces that makes us go,” Martinez said, “makes this lineup [go], and as you can see, when he’s out things are different. Getting him back and him wanting to come back as soon as he got back was awesome, and like I said, he had a great night, and helped us win today.”
“Yeah, it’s huge,” Josh Bell said of Turner’s return to the lineup (after a 3 for 5 night, on which he hit his 12th HR).
“[Turner is] something else,” Bell continued.
“First pitch that he sees goes out of the ballpark, every at bat that he has it seems like he’s either running around the bases or it’s a 3-2 count, he’s making pitchers work, but both sides of the ball he’s definitely something special and he gives us a chance to win with him in the lineup every night.”
“Obviously — I don’t want to say completely as Trea goes, we go, but he’s a big part of our lineup, he can do a lot of different things which makes our lineup that much deeper,” Jon Lester said, after struggling on the mound in his outing in the series opener.
“Obviously him coming in, taking a couple days off and having the big homer to start night was nice to see for him, obviously for us as well, any time you keep him in the lineup, like I said, that just changes the whole dynamic of things.”
Turner’s take on being thought of as the straw that stirs the Nationals’ drink?
“I feel like that’s kind of who I’ve always been over the course of my career, being a leadoff guy that’s kind of your job. Obviously you have different roles, whether it’s drive in runs and this or that, but as a leadoff guy you’re trying to get on base, trying to make things happen and you kind of get the ball rolling for the rest of the guys. That’s kind of been my role my whole career, but now I’m hitting two, but it’s the same thing, you’ve got to get on in front of those guys behind you because that middle of the order can really drive in runs, so just trying to evolve and continue to get better, and continue to get more consistent, and I think when you do those things then you can help the team.”