After becoming the 2019 World Series champions, all eyes are on the Nationals as spring training is underway. Among some of the team’s leading returners is 26-year-old Trea Turner. The shortstop has recently moved up from his previous No. 84 ranking in the MLB Top 100 players to 76. While the Nationals are currently 4-6-1 in spring training, Turner says, “It doesn’t matter. Especially when you have a veteran team, I think it’s all about preparing for the season.”
“Nothing is won or lost in spring training. Nothing is ever won or lost even in the first month of the season for the most part. It’s all about being healthy and hitting the ground running.”
The term ‘Natitude’ seems to be a recurring theme for the 2020 season. This hashtag has graced all of the Washington Nationals’ tweets after the World Series celebrations in November. Fans have also been using the hashtag on social media to show their support for the D.C. team including pictures and videos ranging from kids to pets and beyond.
OK … what's next?#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/gXkaPlW2DQ
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 3, 2020
Turner says that the idea behind the term was established last year. “[It’s the idea of] kind of having fun and competing,” Turner says. “Our team has played a lot of baseball games and have seen a lot of things. I think that lets us stay even and not get too high or too low whether we win or lose.” With hopes of winning another World Series, Turner says that the ‘Natitude’ idea goes back to continuing what they started last year and enjoying it.
Last season, Turner suffered from a broken index finger after taking a pitch to his hand in a bunt attempt. This injury made it necessary for the shortstop to take almost two months off for recovery when the Nationals fell to 19-31. However, he continued the season despite the injury. After playing through the rest of the season, including the World Series, Turner finally got surgery in November. “I haven’t paid attention to it,” Turner said about his finger now. “Which is nice because last year it was all I focused on.” The 26-year-old says that his hitting is mostly the same as it was last season.
“I just want to repeat what I did last year. I felt like I did well, competed well and contributed.”
What to Expect
While Turner says he has nothing specifically that he wants to work on, his game overall is what he wants to fine-tune. Last season, Turner took 521 turns at bat. Of those opportunities, he had 155 hits, 96 that resulted in runs. On defense, he had 298 assists and only 13 errors. “For me, I have always tried to get better whether it’s offense, defense or base running,” Turner said.
“For me I think, you are always evolving.”
As of right now, Turner has the starting position at shortstop locked up. According to Nationals.com, there are not any other possibilities for the starting spot. Turner, however, is not letting this go to his head as he approaches the game ready to compete for the spot himself. “There is always someone kind of trying to take your job,” Turner said. “The front office and the scouts are always trying to look for the next guy.”
“I feel like competing and never settling will help me play as long as I possibly can, which has always been my goal.”
Anthony Rendon had been with the Nationals since 2013 before he signed a 7-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Rendon previously held the third spot in the batting lineup for the Nationals and his moving led to a hole that needs to be filled. Many players have been looked at to fill the spot including Howie Kendrick, Ryan Zimmerman and even new signee Starlin Castro. The more surprising of the potential candidates is Trea Turner.
When looked at as a pure hitter, Turner fits the bill after his successful season up to bat. However, Turner is seen as one of the fastest players in the league. If batting ahead of Juan Soto, he may not be able to steal as many bases. The shortstop though seems less focused on where he is hitting and more focused on hitting there often. “For me,” Turner said, “I just like consistency. Whether it’s one, two, three, four, whatever it is. I just like to be there every single day so I can practice it, get a feel for it and know what to expect. Then I can game plan around that.” As of right now though, Turner says he feels good hitting first.
Despite the pressure of defending the World Series title, Turner is placing a lot more focus on the now, rather than what has already been accomplished or what is ahead. “I don’t really think down the road,” Turner said. “For me, I feel like if you compete at bat each day, as cliché as it is, if you do that, over a long season you’ll end up in a good spot.” He says that focusing too much on what is down the line can come back with bad consequences.
“I don’t really set goals. I just try to compete with myself; make sure I don’t give anything away.”