Posted on April 10, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Washington Nationals have placed shortstop Tree Turner on the 10-day DL with a strained hamstring. Turner suffered the injury early in the team’s lopsided loss to the Phillies Saturday night. He was unable to play on Sunday and with his availability for Monday’s series opener against the Cardinals in doubt, the Nationals decided to put Turner on the DL.
Turner downplayed the injury as nothing serious following Saturday’s game. Meanwhile, Washington manager Dusty Baker put some of the blame for the injury on the cold weather. He also expressed optimism that Turner would be ready to return to the lineup in a couple days.
“I knew I didn’t tear it right from when it happened, I just didn’t know how much worse it could get,” Turner said Saturday night. “So just hopefully get some rest, and hopefully it’ll take care of itself.”
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However, on Monday the Nationals decided to take a more cautious approach and place Turner on the DL, giving him at least 10 full days to recover from what the team still hopes is just a minor issue.
“If we didn’t nip it in the bud right now, it might have lingered all season long,” Baker told reporters on Monday to justify placing the team’s young shortstop on the DL.
Even if Turner’s injury turns out to be a short-term problem that keeps him out of the lineup for two weeks, if not less, it’s still an early season blow to a Washington team that has not started the 2017 season as it would have liked. Heading into Monday’s game against the Cardinals, the Nationals have lost three of their last four, as they have not been able to get a jump on the rest of the NL East early in the year.
To be fair, Turner has struggled early in the season before being removed from Saturday’s game. He has just three hits in his first 19 at-bats, good for a .158 average. However, he’s also stolen three bases, showcasing how dangerous he can be on the base paths, even if he’s not getting on base at a high rate, which has been particularly problematic with Turner hitting in the leadoff spot this season.
With Turner going to the DL, the Nationals will also lose their starting shortstop in addition to their leadoff man. Turner has moved back to his natural position this season after being pressed into duty in center field last season. Stephen Drew figures to step in at shortstop for the Nationals while Turner is out, although he has just one hit in his first 11 at-bats this season. Wilmer Difo is also an option at shortstop; however, he has limited big league experience.
The Nationals have called up Michael Taylor to take Turner’s spot on the roster. Taylor was on the opening day roster but was bounced to triple-A over the weekend when Washington needed to add a fifth starter to its roster. Taylor did not appear in any games for the Nationals this season and has struggled to assert himself in the majors over the past three seasons. He doesn’t figure to get many opportunities to play.
Ultimately, the Nationals would have preferred to avoid putting Turner on the DL, but there’s simply too much uncertainty with regard to when he’ll be ready to play. By placing him on the DL, the Nationals can avoid rushing him back and risk re-aggravating the injury. Losing Turner for at least 10 days isn’t ideal, but in the long run, it may be the best decision for the Nationals.