WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner sat behind the table with his hands folded and took a deep breath. He had spent a lot of time thinking, reflecting and reading reactions from fans hurt by a series of his old tweets that resurfaced Sunday night. The tweets contained homophobic, racist and otherwise
WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner sat behind the table with his hands folded and took a deep breath. He had spent a lot of time thinking, reflecting and reading reactions from fans hurt by a series of his old tweets that resurfaced Sunday night. The tweets contained homophobic, racist and otherwise offensive language.
Turner took ownership of his actions and delivered an apology to begin a 10-minute news conference prior to Tuesday's game against the Mets. He got choked up as he apologized specifically to the LGBTQIA, African-American and special needs communities as well as the Nationals and all fans who were hurt by his language.
"It's not when I said the things I said, it's that I said them at all," Turner said. "That's a clear learning point from this -- to make sure that anybody is aware of what they're saying at all times. No matter how you use it or what context you are using it in, words hurt.
"It's wrong and inexcusable for what I said. I know as an athlete I want to use the platform for good and make a difference in a positive way. I think I can do that, and I want to do that. That's something I can look into and make sure that I'm doing. Just want to reiterate I'm truly sorry for what I said."
Turner had just met with the rest of the Nationals in the clubhouse, where he apologized for his actions but declined to give further details about his address to his team. His teammates expressed their support for Turner, while also acknowledging that there is no place for the language he used.
Turner became the latest baseball player to have offensive tweets resurface, joining Milwaukee's Josh Hader and the Braves' Sean Newcomb. The situation pushed left-hander Sean Doolittle to post his thoughts on Twitter Monday night. Doolittle acknowledged how unfortunate it is to see such language coming from inside baseball but reinforced the ways everyone can work to make baseball better.
"I think he's stood up and accepted responsibility and really expressed a lot of remorse for what he said," said Doolittle, who said he's had a few conversations with Turner in recent days. "I think a lot of times it's a tough thing to grapple with, having something you said as a 17- or 18-year-old come back to haunt you a little bit later in life, and I think sometimes when you're that age, you might know those things are wrong to say, but maybe you don't know anybody that's been personally affected by them.
"It's tough for you to really understand the damage, the real damage that they can and do cause. I think at that age that's kind of just an abstract concept, and you don't think about the scope that you might have one day, the impact that your words might have one day when you're all grown up. I really just hope this can be a learning thing. We've seen three guys now in our league that have [had] some old tweets surface like this, and I really hope it can be a learning experience and that people can grow from it. I know Trea. I know the man he is. I love him as a friend, as a teammate. I really don't think that those [tweets] reflect who he is, but now, he has the opportunity to demonstrate that growth, and we have to give that space for him to be able to demonstrate that he's grown and he's changed since then."
And while Turner insisted he's never had any bigoted views, he also pointed to ways he has changed and can continue to do so moving forward. He has been one of the spokespersons for MLB's "Shred Hate" program, a bullying prevention program that seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness. He has listened to and read stories from Nats fans on social media hurt by his words who have shared their thoughts from the past few days.
"People, if they shared their stories, I've read some of things and just tried to listen and try to think," Turner said. "Just try to soak all that in and try to be a better person, better human being and move on.
"I think, going forward, I can do a lot more things. I just need to assess what's important to me, what can make the biggest difference and from reading the last few days, being a kid and things kids go through is kind of overlooked. That's something I would like to take part in. I have in the past couple years done quite a bit through the team, but doing more and more is better."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.