Trea Turner has known he’s been white-hot at the plate the in recent days. Notching eight straight hits will do that.
“I mean, if you don't, you're lying,” Turner said. “Everyone thinks about it.”
But the 23-year-old speedster didn’t realize he was franchise-record hot until it was too late in Wednesday's 10-8 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
After tying Dmitri Young and Andre Dawson’s Nationals/Expos mark with eight hits in consecutive plate appearances earlier in the night, Turner struck out in the ninth inning to end his shot at history. It was only then, upon seeing his whiff on a computer replay, that he saw a note on the screen saying he was one hit shy of standing alone.
“If I would have known that, I wouldn't have struck out, probably,” he joked. “I'm just kidding. I didn't know that until then."
If your only struggle of late is having to settle for tying a franchise record, chances are things are going well.
Turner’s time in the majors this season has lasted all of 37 games, and yet rookie has made a huge impression on his team by making the game look easy on a nightly basis. Whether that’s being the needed sparkplug at the plate or a terror on the base paths, the much-ballyhooed prospect might be even better than some in the organization initially believed.
“Trea’s been playing great,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He had a great night at the plate. He’s also a very determined young man. That determination and youthful exuberance I think has rubbed off on the team.”
Perhaps even more impressive than Turner’s ability is his aptitude. In addition to having to adjust to big-league pitching, he’s had to learn center field, a position he hadn’t played in college or in the minors prior to this season.
And on Wednesday night’s first play, Turner showed why the Nats believe he’ll be just fine at his new home. He sprinted and dove at full speed rob Orioles’ leadoff man Adam Jones’ of extra bases.
“We’re both about the same speed,” veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman deadpanned. “For him to do that [is impressive]. He’s been playing center field for a month, maybe.”
Of course, he still has his hiccups, as he had later in the game when he leaped and couldn’t haul in ball near the wall in deep center field. But given everything else he brings to the team, the Nats will surely endure whatever growing pains he goes through.
“I feel good [in center field],” he said. “I feel like I'm kinda picking it up as I go and continue to do that in [batting practice] and also the games."
Since the day he became an everyday player, Turner has looked like he belongs. With a slash line of .335/.359/.544 to go along with nine doubles, six triples and four home runs, he may already be establishing himself as one of the most dynamic leadoff men in the game.
"I think it's an empty mind,” Turner said of his approach. “You're not really thinking too much. You just react. I think the more you can do that, the better you'll be, the more success you'll have.”
And if this is only the beginning, the Nats have to be awfully excited about what's in store for the Lake Worth, Florida native.
“He’s still so young,” Zimmerman said. “He’s still learning how to play and learning himself. His baseball IQ is through the roof. I think he makes adjustments really quick. He’s really observant of what goes on around him. He’s going to be a really good one.”