Turner hopes mechanical adjustment helps to get his groove back

With Adam Eaton out for the season, the pressure on the top of the order to get on base and create offense almost completely falls on talented shortstop Trea Turner.

However, Turner has recently been going after first pitches too often, and opposing pitchers started throwing him more off-speed stuff. His numbers began to wane.

His average had dropped to .236 on May 18 after an 0-for-5 against the Pirates.

Since then, Turner has accumulated eight hits in his last seven games. His average is up to .244.

He went 2-for-4 Friday night, with a double, a homer and one RBI in the Nationals' 5-1 win over the Padres.

In addition to the homer and the double, his third at-bat drive was hit so wickedly to third base that in handcuffed Ryan Schimpf, who was charged with a two-base error.

The home run led off the game and staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead. A 430-foot homer is always a good way to feel better at the plate.

trea-turner-bat-blue-back.jpg"I like hitting them where nobody can catch them," Turner said. "I feel like I've hit the ball at people at times this year and its nice hitting it out of the reach of those defenders."

It was a good sign for Turner, who said he has worked the week or so reviewing what clicked in his favor at the plate last season. In 2016, he hit .342 in 73 games with 14 doubles, eight triples, 13 homers, stole 33 bases and had 40 RBIs.

"I'm trying anything and everything that will make me feel better," Turner said. "I've been watching from last year because I don't think I felt like that same swing or hitter at any point this year, really. So me and (Nationals hitting coach Rick) Schu were talking about it and we tried to make an adjustment today, looked like the right one so far, so we'll see."

Bench coach Chris Speier, who is managing the Nationals while Dusty Baker attends his son's graduation in California, said he believes the loss of Eaton might also have played a small role in Turner squeezing the bat a bit too hard.

"I know Trea. Trea is a quiet guy, but he's got an intensity, and he really, really wants to do well," Speier said. "I think for a while, he might have been putting a little pressure on him once Adam Eaton went down, to get on base and be productive. But we just told him, just be you. You're going to be fine."

Turner got specific with what he looked to adjust in each at-bat. He said he believes he wasn't starting his progression in each at-bat where he would have liked and that caused timing problems.

"More mechanical, sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle where (I'm) not trying to do enough.
I'm just trying to put the ball in play and not doing any damage and then I'm trying too hard," Turner explained.

"It's kind of getting in the middle, trying to make sure I'm ready to hit a 95-100 mph fastball, but at the same time not just swinging out of my shoes. So it's interesting, but it's hard to explain. It's something you kinda gotta feel and today it felt good."

That is what Turner believes is a good sign. It wasn't just the one at-bat that led to a homer to lead off the game. In his next two at-bats, he ended up at second base thanks to a double and a two-base error. That performance will help him rebuild some of the confidence that made him the rookie sensation from last year.

And it's not lost on anybody that he had a night like he did against the Padres team that traded him to the Nationals in December 2015.

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