Turner, who broke his right index finger 6 1/2 weeks ago, emerged from back-to-back rehab games with Single-A Potomac feeling well. He was back at Nationals Park this morning, working out before the Nats’ series finale against the Mets.
A final decision hasn’t been made yet, but club officials will consider activating their starting shortstop off the injured list Friday for the opener of a weekend series with the Cubs.
“He worked out this morning,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We’re just going to give him a day and then see how he feels tomorrow.”
Turner went 1-for-8 with a walk and four strikeouts the last two nights for Potomac. He turned three double plays at shortstop but also was charged with an error.
More importantly, he played nine innings each night, so physically he appears ready to return. The Nationals must decide whether that’s enough, or whether they prefer he get more at-bats and game reps and get his timing down before he’s facing major leaguers again.
“The biggest thing now is the game speed,” Martinez said. “That’s why we wanted him to go down there and play, so that he’s on the field, sitting down, getting up, getting into the game, getting balls hit at him at 100 mph. Just catching up and playing at game speed. I think that’s the biggest difference: how quick the game goes. You don’t realize it, but after missing so much time - even missing 10 days - the game is quick.”
In an ideal scenario, the Nationals wouldn’t hesitate to take the cautious route and keep Turner on rehab through the weekend. But the Nationals aren’t in an ideal scenario, trying to play catch up after a ragged start to the season that has included injuries to fellow regulars Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams.
Turner was 5-for-13 with a double, two homers, four RBIs, four steals and a 1.352 OPS in three games before breaking his finger trying to bunt April 2 against the Phillies’ Zach Eflin. In his absence, fill-in shortstops Wilmer Difo and Carter Kieboom have hit a combined .204 with two doubles, four homers, nine RBIs, a .280 on-base percentage and .587 OPS.
Difo and Kieboom also have struggled in the field, making Turner’s return - whether Friday or later - all the more critical to the team’s chances of turning its season around.
“The one constant with Trea is his speed,” Martinez said. “When he gets on base, he makes things happen. And his defense is really, really good. Just getting him back in the lineup and getting him going again will be a nice sight to see.”