Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Health a key for Turner to continue breakout

Nats shortstop feeling 'really good' as new manager may drop him from leadoff spot
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner still considers himself as the new guy; he said so this week with a laugh. He is only coming off his first full season in the Majors, even though it was marred by injuries -- a hamstring strain and a broken wrist -- that sidelined him for nearly half the year.

Those injury issues were mostly out of Turner's control last season, but he still showed when he was on the field that he can be one of the most dynamic players in baseball. And one of the keys for Turner in 2018 will be staying on the field where he can continue wreaking havoc in the batter's box and on the basepaths.

WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner still considers himself as the new guy; he said so this week with a laugh. He is only coming off his first full season in the Majors, even though it was marred by injuries -- a hamstring strain and a broken wrist -- that sidelined him for nearly half the year.

Those injury issues were mostly out of Turner's control last season, but he still showed when he was on the field that he can be one of the most dynamic players in baseball. And one of the keys for Turner in 2018 will be staying on the field where he can continue wreaking havoc in the batter's box and on the basepaths.

"I think I can change small things to make me feel better each and every day," Turner said. "From an overall standpoint, I feel great. My wrist doesn't bother me, my hamstring doesn't bother me. Nothing that was bothering me last year is bothering me now. I feel really good, really refreshed. It's just a matter of staying healthy for 160 games."

Turner played in 98 games in 2017, and although he did not exactly match the production from his electric rookie campaign, he was still very valuable when he was on the field last season. He posted a slash line of .284/.338/.451 with 11 home runs, a Nats-record 46 stolen bases and 3.0 wins above replacement.

The Nationals can be encouraged that he still showed off the sneaky power from his rookie season and broke their stolen-base record in fewer than 100 games and wonder what he could do with a full healthy season.

One change that could be coming next season for Turner is his spot in the lineup after spending last season as the team's sole leadoff hitter. But new manager Dave Martinez has said he has often jotted down potential lineups during his first month as Nats manager, and while he would not get into specifics about the entire lineup, they do not always include Turner at the top. Martinez called Adam Eaton his leadoff hitter at the Winter Meetings last week, and the new manager, who learned from Joe Maddon, said he will get creative.

"I've hit 1, 2 and surprisingly I've hit 3 most of my life," Turner said. "Not that I'm going to be hitting 3, but I feel like those are three really different positions in the lineup. And I feel like I've done all of them. I know what's expected at each one of those, and I feel like you can take that experience away.

"Whatever day it is, if he changes the lineup, so be it. We'll move on from there. Our job is to play as best as we can. And if that means hitting 1, 2, 3, then I'll do that at a high level in order for us to be able to win."

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

Washington Nationals, Trea Turner