The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

If called upon, Trea Turner ready to provide whatever Nats need

Trea Turner at the Futures Game. (John Minchillo/AP)

Joe Ross struggled to fool hitters the second time through the batting order on Sunday and allowed four runs — three more than Giants starter Madison Bumgarner needed — before departing in the fifth inning of the Nationals’ 5-0 loss at San Francisco.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, shortstop Trea Turner, the other prospect the Nationals received in the three-team deal that sent Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay, joined Grant Paulsen on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio and described his offensive game.

“I’m a leadoff or a two-hole hitter, contact guy,” said Turner, who is hitting .306/.349/.422 with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts in 45 games at Class AAA Syracuse. “[I] try to put the ball in play as much as I can, use my legs, just put pressure on the defense and, if I do what I need to, keep it simple, I can start driving the ball and getting some extra-base hits. If I need to lay down a bunt, I can bunt. I feel like I can do a lot just to get on base, and that’s really what I need to do, just be there and then after that, I’ve got guys behind me … that can drive me in. We’ve got some good bats behind me.”

[The curious case of Trea Turner]

While that certainly sounds like a player who could prove useful to Manager Matt Williams, who batted Michael Taylor and his .284 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot for all three games in San Francisco, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said earlier this month he “wouldn’t foresee” Turner making his major league debut this season.

Rizzo also couldn’t foresee his team’s most recent six-game losing streak and a 4.5-game deficit in the National League East standings on Aug. 17. While he remains confident the Nationals will “snap out of it,” continued offensive struggles in Colorado or a snag in Denard Span’s rehab assignment could force his hand.

For his part, Turner says he’s trying to avoid thinking about his next move, whenever and wherever that may be.

“I learned that last year when I got to pro ball,” the 22-year-old Turner said. “Obviously, everyone wants to move up as fast as they can, [but] when you start to worry about moving and not what’s in front of you, then you start to struggle.”

[Forget what you’ve heard: It’s time for Nationals to panic]

If Turner does get the call from the Nationals, he said he’ll be ready.

“If you don’t trust yourself or have confidence in yourself, it’s going to be hard to succeed, especially at that level, so if that does happen, I gotta go up there and do whatever’s asked of me,” he said. “I’ll pinch-run all day, I’ll play defense all day, it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever they need.”

Right now, that’s a lot.