Ham­string strain forces Turner onto DL

Out­fielder Tay­lor fills ros­ter spot

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

Trea Turner can’t sprint. This, for a 23-year-old lead­off hit­ter who has con­structed his game on speed, is not good. So, the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als placed Turner on the 10-day dis­abled list Mon­day be­cause of a ham­string strain. Out­fielder Michael A. Tay­lor was re­called from Triple-A Syra­cuse to take his place on the ros­ter. Stephen Drew will re­place Turner as the start­ing short­stop, at least for Mon­day. Adam Ea­ton will slide into Turner’s lead­off spot.

Turner was in­jured on Saturday when run­ning the bases dur­ing one of the Na­tion­als’ most dis­as­trous in­nings in team his­tory. He was hurt in the top of a frigid first against the Philadel­phia Phillies. Jeremy Guthrie al­lowed 10 earned runs in two-thirds of an in­ning on his 38th birth­day in the bot­tom of it. The in­ning was part of a painful los­ing se­ries in Philadel­phia that lev­eled the Na­tion­als’ record at 3-3 coming into Mon­day.

Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker will pivot between Drew and Wilmer Difo dur­ing Turner’s time on the dis­abled list, which is retroac­tive to April 9. Turner will miss seven games be­cause Wash­ing­ton has two days off while he is re­cu­per­at­ing. Drew will play Mon­day and Wed­nes­day. Difo will be in the lineup Tues­day, play­ing the mid­dle game of a three-game se­ries with the St. Louis Car­di­nals.

This is the first time Wash­ing­ton will uti­lize an off­sea­son change by Ma­jor League Base­ball. The league cut the dis­abled list from 15 days to 10. Re­duc­ing the manda­tory length of stay al­lows man­agers to be re­moved from limbo. Often, play­ers are in­jured to the point that they need five days to re­cover, but not two weeks. Last sea­son,

Wash­ing­ton was caught in-between dur­ing one point of the year with Bryce Harper.

Harper missed five consecutive games in early Au­gust, but was never placed on the dis­abled list. Harper tak­ing a ros­ter spot although he was not able to play short­ened Baker’s bench, leav­ing him with fewer op­tions for al­most a week. Sit­u­a­tions like that made Baker pleased by the rule change.

“Es­pe­cially with the mi­nor, mi­nor things that are hin­der­ing you from play­ing, pos­si­bly in­jur­ing it more but not bad enough for you to be two weeks, 15 days on the DL,” Baker said. “There­fore, you end up play­ing short for prob­a­bly a week to 10 days when that per­son might have been coming back.”

Turner took bat­ting prac­tice in the in­door cage Mon­day. He said his re­cov­ery plan in­volves “ba­si­cally get poked on un­til I feel bet­ter.” By that, he meant mas­sage and phys­i­cal ther­apy.

Ham­string in­juries make Baker nervous. When he was the man­ager in Cincin­nati, Chris Heisey, who is also now with the Na­tion­als, pulled his ham­string. He con­vinced Baker he was ready to re­turn to the lineup, and when he did, he pulled the ham­string again. The chal­lenge for Turner, as it is with all in­jured play­ers, is be­ing ready to re­act.

“It’s hard to sim­u­late game speed,” Baker said. “I don’t care how much you work out, what you do. You can run back­wards, for­ward, karaoke. You can do any­thing. But, it’s hard to sim­u­late game speed and quick­ness.”

The break will also give Turner a chance to re­assess af­ter a rough first week at the plate. He’s hit­ting just .158 and has struck out seven times in 19 at-bats. He is yet to walk. Early on, he is be­ing thrown more slid­ers than last sea­son, ac­cord­ing to Fan­graphs. Two other numbers from Fan­graphs about Turner’s plate ap­pear­ances this sea­son jump out: One is that when he swings, he is af­ter strikes 75.7 per­cent of the time. That’s a 10-point jump from last sea­son. Oddly, de­spite the qual­ity plate dis­ci­pline, his con­tact per­cent­age is down al­most 10 points when swing­ing at strikes and over­all.

Coun­ter­ing Turner’s scuf­fling first week is Ea­ton’s solid start which in­cludes a league-lead­ing seven walks. His .250 bat­ting av­er­age coming into Mon­day has paired with the walks to de­liver a .444 on-base per­cent­age. Ea­ton’s walk rate is un­sus­tain­able. Ex­trap­o­lated, it would lead to a sea­son with 215 walks. Ea­ton also has six strike­outs, which puts him on pace for 205. Nei­ther num­ber will be re­al­ity in Septem­ber. How­ever, the strike­out have caught Baker’s at­ten­tion. Ea­ton av­er­aged 123 strike­outs the last two sea­sons.

“He’s bet­ter than what he’s play­ing,” Baker said. “He’ll be bet­ter once he learns the league more. He’s been -- I shouldn’t be sur­prised. Spring train­ing, he had [60] at-bats and no walks. He has five or six walks al­ready. I’d like to see him cut his swing down with two strikes, cut his strike­outs down. It’s hard to use your speed when you’re walk­ing back to the dugout.”

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als short­stop Trea Turner was hurt in the first in­ning against the Philadel­phia Phillies on Saturday.

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