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Baker drops Turner to No. 2 in order, for now

While shortstop recovers from hamstring injury, he'll hit behind Eaton
MLB.com @JamalCollier

NEW YORK -- As Nationals manager Dusty Baker has tinkered with his lineup since the start of Spring Training, he has kept one constant: Trea Turner as his leadoff hitter.

That remains true, even though Turner batted second Saturday against the Mets in his first start since a right hamstring strain landed him on the 10-day disabled list. Turner was activated from the DL Friday, but Baker still wants to monitor Turner's legs. So he slotted Turner into the No. 2 spot in the lineup and hit Adam Eaton leadoff, a change that Baker said was temporary. Turner responded by going 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the Nats' 3-1 win.

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NEW YORK -- As Nationals manager Dusty Baker has tinkered with his lineup since the start of Spring Training, he has kept one constant: Trea Turner as his leadoff hitter.

That remains true, even though Turner batted second Saturday against the Mets in his first start since a right hamstring strain landed him on the 10-day disabled list. Turner was activated from the DL Friday, but Baker still wants to monitor Turner's legs. So he slotted Turner into the No. 2 spot in the lineup and hit Adam Eaton leadoff, a change that Baker said was temporary. Turner responded by going 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the Nats' 3-1 win.

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"Turner's a game-changer. He can create havoc," Baker said. "I'm doing it this time because he hasn't played. And I'm not really convinced that his leg is 100 percent."

After Turner had so much success last season hitting leadoff, on his way to finishing second in the voting for the National League Rookie of the Year, Baker decided he wanted to keep him in that slot. Eaton has hit in the top of the order for most of his career; however, Baker does not like the idea of having three consecutive lefties in Eaton, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. But Baker does not want to start regularly hitting Turner second, in front of Harper, because he believes it would limit Turner's ability on the bases.

"Because if [Turner] steals they're just going to walk [Harper]," Baker said. "It'll help out Murphy, but it won't help out Harp."

Turner played in two extended spring games in West Palm Beach, Fla., before rejoining the team, where he stole bases and ran for a triple to help test out his legs. Still, Baker will keep a close eye on Turner before he moves him back into the leadoff spot to make sure there are no lingering effects from his hamstring injury.

"Just play," Baker said. "And I can tell ... especially your first injury, you have to get past the physiological part of being hurt for the first time. Because when you're that young, most of them never had any leg injuries.

"That is a big part of his game. Once he realizes in his mind that he's no longer hurt then he'll be Trea again."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Adam Eaton, Trea Turner