Turner searching for success with Phillies: 'I'm honest with myself'

May 23rd, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- slashed an 0-2 slider into right field in the seventh inning to score from second base on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

It was Turner’s first hit with a runner in scoring position since April 19, snapping an 0-for-22 skid in the Phillies’ 6-3 loss to Arizona.

Maybe it is the beginning of something. Or maybe it is just one hit in another game in May. Everybody is hoping for the former, because Turner has not played the way anybody expected him to play this season. He is hitting .256 with four home runs, 11 RBIs and a .693 OPS. It is his lowest OPS through his first 46 games of a season in his career.

“I’m honest with myself, I’ve sucked,” Turner said. “But every at-bat, every play, every game is another day to try to do better and try to be the player that I know I am. If you harp on yesterday or you harp on the last at-bat, it’s just going to snowball on you, you’re not going to be able to turn it around. So I’m honest with myself. I tell myself straight, and I don’t lie to myself. I think I’m a positive guy. I think I can always do better and can always be better. That’s the attitude I have, but at the same time, I know when I don’t do something right.”

Turner did not play Saturday for the first time this season because Phillies manager Rob Thomson thought a breather could help.

Turner had a 10-pitch at-bat in the first inning Sunday against the Cubs before he struck out swinging, then he doubled in the seventh. He struck out swinging in the first inning Monday on a seven-pitch at-bat, then he singled to score a run in the seventh and walked in the ninth.

“You lean on those at-bats, but at the same time, I think my first three at-bats yesterday and today were kind of brutal for the most part,” Turner said. “It’s just that consistency. I think if I can do that for four, five at-bats in a day, for a week, for a month, then I’ll feel better, a little more satisfied. But I’ve just got to battle these situations.”

It has not been smooth sailing for Turner -- or anybody who has hit first or second in the Phillies’ lineup this season. It is perhaps the biggest reason for the offense’s struggles.

The first two hitters in Philadelphia’s lineup entered Monday with a combined .276 on-base percentage, which ranked 29th in the Majors. The Phils’ .645 OPS ranked 26th. It’s the franchise’s second-lowest OBP from the top two spots since 1901 -- only the ’68 Phillies had a lower mark (.273). It’s also the franchise’s lowest OPS from those two spots since ’72 (.618 OPS).

“Those are the table setters,” Thomson said. “You’re expecting them to get on base and create some havoc and set it up for the middle of the lineup.”

A leadoff hitter might only bat first in an inning once a game, but he still gets more plate appearances than anybody else. The Phillies' top two hitters this season opened Monday with a combined 428 plate appearances. That’s 37 more than the No. 3-4 hitters, 46 more than the No. 5-6 hitters and 66 more than the No. 7-8 hitters.

The Phillies have hit Stott at leadoff 29 times, Turner 14 times and four times.

Schwarber hit his club-best 12th homer Monday and might be heating up. He is slashing .167/.483/.667 with three homers and six RBIs in his past seven games, reaching base safely 14 times in 29 plate appearances. Stott also homered in the series opener. He is slashing .343/.385/.629 with one double, three homers and seven RBIs in his past nine games.

Thomson would only want Schwarber or Stott to bat first with hitting third, because the manager likes to separate his left-handed hitters. It likely means Turner will continue to hit no lower than second.

“It looks like he’s coming,” Thomson said.

Maybe. Hopefully. The Phillies need him badly.

“The swing has felt pretty good for two, three weeks now,” Turner said. “The decision-making is pretty hit or miss. I feel like when you’re going good, you don’t think about any of those things. You’re just hitting and reacting. ... Those last couple at-bats I felt like that and just reacted, and I wasn’t thinking about anything else.”