Trea Turner was named the Nationals’ 2018 recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award, a deserving honor for the talented and giving shortstop, though the timing of the announcement was less than ideal on the day his manager suggested he’ll likely be benched for failing to run out a bunt during Monday night’s loss in Milwaukee.
The Heart and Hustle Award is handed out annually by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, which seeks to recognize one player from each club who “demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.”
“Trea has an admirable work ethic and consistently gives his all on the field,” MLBPAA chief executive offer Dan Foster said in the organization’s press release announcing the award this morning. “He is a role model to the youth of Washington, D.C.”
Turner, 25, has seen his public profile grow in his third major league season and has become one of the Nationals’ clubhouse leaders as well as a regular participant in various community outreach programs. Among his charitable works this year has been his role in MLB’s “Shred Hate” program, which seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness.
On the field, Turner is hitting .263 with a .338 on-base percentage, 12 homers, 40 RBIs and 22 stolen bases and was one of five players to be included on the All-Star Game Final Vote ballot.
Today’s recognition announcement comes on the heels of one of Turner’s few regrettable moments of the season. In the top of the fourth of the Nationals’ 6-1 loss to the Brewers, he bunted a high-and-tight fastball from Jhoulys Chacin that rolled back to the pitcher. Frustrated by the play that was going to result in a sure third out, Turner stood near the batter’s box and threw his bat and helmet to the ground as Chacin (with ball still in hand) watched. Plate umpire Nic Lentz eventually called him out for not making an attempt to run to first base.
“I thought I was going to get hit by it and ended up bunting it fair somehow,” Turner told reporters afterward. “By the time I got my feet underneath me from backing away, I felt like the pitcher was already standing right there. I probably should have ran to first.”
Manager Davey Martinez, once he recognized what had occurred, suggested after the game he plans to bench Turner for tonight’s contest.
“I thought the ball hit him,” Martinez said. “They said he bunted the ball. I was like: ‘Why would he walk off the field?’ In that moment, we’re trying to win a ballgame. There’s a good chance he won’t play tomorrow.”