Talk about unfortunate timing. The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association on Tuesday announced the 30 individual team winners of the 2018 Heart & Hustle Award, which is voted on by former players and honors the active major leaguers who “demonstrate a passion for the game and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” The Nationals’ winner was none other than shortstop Trea Turner, who showed neither heart nor hustle when he threw his equipment and didn’t bother running — or even walking — to first base after bunting a ball in front of the plate during the fourth inning of Monday night’s loss at the Milwaukee Brewers.
Everyone, including Nationals Manager Dave Martinez, was surprised by Turner’s display of frustration, which came in the fourth inning of a 1-1 game and prompted some boos from the Miller Park crowd.
“That was very odd,” Nationals radio voice Dave Jageler said on the air. “The pitch ran up and in, Turner bunted the ball back to the pitcher in fair territory and gave up. He threw his bat down and his helmet. … Turner walked up the third base line, and he was called out for abandoning the baseline. That does not look very good to do that.”
“Even if you bunt and you don’t like where the bunt went, you’ve still got to run to first,” MASN analyst F.P. Santangelo said on the TV broadcast.
Santangelo continued discussing the play after a break that featured Turner in a commercial for the Nationals’ “kids run the bases” promotion.
“The bottom line is he’s real embarrassed right now, but you have to run,” Santangelo said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
“I thought the ball hit him,” Martinez said after the game. “They said he bunted the ball. I was like, ‘Why would he walk off the field?’ In that moment, we’re trying to win a ballgame. There’s a good chance he won’t play [Tuesday].”
“I thought I was going to get hit by it and ended up bunting it fair somehow,” explained Turner, who is tied for fourth in the National League with 22 stolen bases, meaning he often shows plenty of hustle. “By the time I got my feet underneath me from backing away, I felt like the pitcher was already standing right there. I probably should have ran to first.”
Turner joins Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Jesus Flores and Alfonso Soriano among the Nationals who have received the team’s Heart & Hustle Award, which was established in 2005. Voting was completed before the All-Star Game.
“Trea has an admirable work ethic and consistently gives his all on the field,” MLBPAA CEO Dan Foster said in a release. “He is a role model to the youth of Washington, D.C.”
The MLB-wide winner of the award will be voted on by MLB alumni and active players, with an announcement set for Nov. 8. Last year’s winner was New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. Speaking of the Yankees, Turner wasn’t the only unintentionally amusing name, given the timing, among this year’s list of nominees. The Yankees congratulated backup catcher Austin Romine as their team winner Tuesday morning, hours after starting catcher Gary Sanchez failed to hustle on a groundball that led to the final out of a one-run loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
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