ATLANTA - Trea Turner was at SunTrust Park this afternoon, putting his healing hamstring through a rigorous test that included baserunning drills and a full round of batting practice with his Nationals teammates, but it doesn’t appear he’ll remain here in Atlanta for long.
Though he’s eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday, Turner likely won’t play for the Nationals until he’s had a chance to get at-bats and innings in a minor league rehab game, manager Dusty Baker suggested.
“He has to go through something first,” Baker said. “He ran today pretty well, so he’s not going to come off (the DL) tomorrow. But we’re contemplating him going and getting some playing time someplace.”
Turner has spent the last 10 days on the DL, recovering from a minor right hamstring strain suffered on a stolen base attempt April 8 in Philadelphia. The second-year shortstop said Sunday in Washington that he felt ready to return right then, but acknowledged the team was likely to take a more cautious approach with him.
Turner did fly with the Nationals to Atlanta after Sunday’s game, and this afternoon was on the field early, running hard on the bases, the only remaining test he had for his leg. That led to some reasonable speculation the club might just activate him Wednesday when he becomes eligible, but the Nats think an intermediate step via a rehab assignment would be best for him.
The trick is figuring out where to send Turner now. Single-A Potomac is home Wednesday but plays at 10:35 a.m. and then goes on the road. Triple-A Syracuse is home Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. and Thursday at 6:35 p.m. The Nationals’ other affiliates are all on the road right now.
“And we’re looking for places to go of warmth, where he doesn’t have to necessarily be in the cold to test that,” Baker said. “There aren’t a bunch of warm places around.”
Update: It took until the top of the fifth, but we’ve finally got our first runs of the game. The Nationals scored a pair, thanks to Matt Wieters’ double, Wilmer Difo’s RBI single, Max Scherzer’s sac bunt and Adam Eaton’s RBI single. They might’ve had a chance to add even more, but Eaton ran himself into an out, getting caught stealing 2-4-3. Yes, despite going three-quarters of the way to second base, he slammed on the brakes and tried to run back to first, only to be tagged out anyway.
That was the second TOOTBLAN (look it up) of the night already for the Nationals, with Bryce Harper also getting caught straying too far off second base in the top of the fourth. We’ll have to wait and see if those baserunning gaffes cost them later.
Scherzer has been quite good so far, though, holding the Braves to two hits in four innings. He (along with Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz) has been helped by C.B. Bucknor’s very wide strike zone, and that should be noted. But overall, Scherzer has gotten the job done through the first portion of tonight’s start, helping the Nats take a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
Update II: It’s still 2-0 after seven, and for that you can thank Scherzer. He ended the sixth with his pitch count at 101, and Baker appeared to tell his ace that would be it for the night. But Scherzer appeared to talk his way into returning to the mound for the seventh, and he proceeded to retire the side, strike out a pair and complete seven scoreless on 116 pitches. Quite a performance this turned into. Now it’s up to the bullpen to make it count.
Update III: Make it 3-0 after a big insurance run in the top of the eighth, thanks to doubles by Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Sammy Solis takes over on the mound now for the bottom of the inning, trying to protect a three-run lead.
Update IV: It’s over, and the Nats survived to win 3-1, but it wasn’t easy. Blake Treinen couldn’t finish the ninth, pulled after walking in a run with one out. Shawn Kelley had to come in and clean up the mess, earning his first save of the season in what became a harrowing bottom of the ninth.