Turner is back, plus updates on injured players and other notes

For the first time since April 2, Trea Turner is back with the Nationals, playing shortstop and leading off tonight against the Cubs. Turner missed 39 games with a broken right index finger.

“It was real nice to write his name in the lineup,” said Nationals manager Davey Martinez. “He’s been itching to get back, as we all know. He’s excited to be back. No expectations. I told him to go out there and play the game and do what you do best.

“He’s been working diligently for a while now. He’s done a lot of stuff to prepare himself to get ready. We watched him play and it looks like he was ready. His at-bats look like he was on time, which is kind of nice. Defense was really good. He was ready so he is in there.”

Turner stayed with the team on its 10-game road trip, continued rehab in D.C., played a couple of games for high Single-A Potomac and finally gets back on the major league field tonight.

“It feels good,” Turner said. “With injuries, every day feels the same. It’s so repetitive doing the same things over and over, trying to just get back on the playing field. Now I get a chance to play again. Feels good to be back here contributing and hopefully we can get a win tonight.”

Turner made sure the finger was good to go with constant rehab that included glovework, catching and throwing to first, and gripping the bat.

“It’s just more confidence than anything,” Turner said. “My finger’s felt good doing baseball activity. Just a matter of testing it. If I get in the game and check swing and do those things, being able to turn a double play. I felt like I was tested in a lot of different ways down there, so it was good to get that confidence, and now I don’t second-guess it.”

Without Turner, the Nats went 17-22, but have won two of their last three and four of their last seven.

“Winning or losing - I guess winning kind of solves everything, but I’m a little jealous if they’re winning and I’m not part of that, too,” Turner said. “It’s a lot of fun. Being able to take those wins and losses with them is going to be a good thing for me, and I’m excited about that.

“The last two games, we’ve played really well. We battled one out yesterday and got the win, even though it wasn’t super pretty. But winning is the main thing. Doesn’t matter how it happens, just as long as we can win. These last two days, I think we’ve done a better job, so hopefully we can continue it and kind of get a win streak going.”

* Martinez decided to give Adam Eaton the day off to rest. “He’s played a lot of games in a row Just give him a little blow and be ready to come in, pitch hit or play defense, whatever we need him for,” the manager said.

* Aníbal Sánchez has not had a MRI done yet on his strained left hamstring, but has been placed on the 10-day injured list. “They just want to see how he felt today,” Martinez said. “Feels better. Yesterday, he said he couldn’t walk without pain and today he’s walking without pain. So it’s kind of nice. Hopefully, this is just a short stint on the IL for him.”

* A few eyebrows were raised with the demotion of infielder Wilmer Difo to Triple-A Fresno. Martinez was quick to point out it was not to make a statement for recent sloppy plays on defense and on the basepaths. The skipper instead wants Difo to play every day for Fresno.

“With Trea being back, he’s going to play every day,” Martinez said. “For me, Difo needs to play. I mean he really does. It’s the ability again for him to play and when we need him he’s had the at-bats, he comes up and he’s right back where he left off. So for him just to sit there, I don’t think people realize how young Difo still is. We just want him to play, keep playing. When we need him again, he’s been playing. It’s not like he’s sitting there and all of a sudden you plop him back in. So that was it. He’ll be back at some time, I know.”

Martinez sees a lot of versatility in Adrián Sanchez, even as an emergency backstop.

“This is not a punishment for Wilmer,” Martinez said. “I also want to praise Adrián Sanchez for what he’s doing coming off the bench. He fits the role perfectly and he’s worked hard. He’s coming off the bench, putting good at-bats together. Here’s a guy that can play all four infield positions. He can play corner outfield if need be. Also, he’s been working on catching too, so he could be a third catcher.”

mcgowin-throws-white-sidebar.jpg* Right-hander Kyle McGowin arrives for the first time this season with the Nats, having posted a 4-2 record with a 4.32 ERA in eight starts with Fresno, striking out 50 batters and walking only 12.

“He’s been pitching well, really well,” Martinez said. “Apparently, his slider has been really good. He has been sinking his fastball, getting ahead, throwing a lot of strikes. That’s kind of nice. He’s going to be in the bullpen just because of our usage lately in the bullpen. We’ll see where we are at from there.”

McGowin said he best pitch is his slider, saying “(I’m a) sinkerballer, try to throw strikes and get outs quick.”

“I’m just here, whatever they need me to do. I haven’t been given much detail yet, but I’m ready to throw whenever they need me. I’ve started my whole life, last September I was a reliever, so a little bit of knowledge there. Wherever they need me. Doesn’t matter to me.

* First baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is on the 10-day IL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, took full swings in batting practice today and Martinez said he wants to have his veteran take another major step Sunday.

“For Zim, he’s actually feeling better every day,” Martinez said. “He’s doing all baseball activities. The next hurdle is really getting him to start running and getting on it a little bit. Everything else, he seems to be fine. Hopefully, by the end of the weekend, we can hone in on getting him to start really running and really getting after it a little bit and then we’ll see where he’s at.”

* First baseman/outfielder Matt Adams, on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder strain, also took some limited swings with the bat today.

“Matty took some swings today with a fungo and he felt a lot better,” Martinez said. “He’s progressing. Hopefully him as well by the first part of next week, we can get him back on the field and really getting him started taking batting practice, stuff of that nature.”

* Martinez said left-hander Tony Sipp, on the 10-day IL with a strained oblique, will pitch a rehab game for high Single-A Potomac on Saturday.

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