Trea Turner has been out since April 2 with a broken right index finger. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner will begin a rehab assignment with the Class A Potomac Nationals on Tuesday, six weeks after he broke his right index finger just four games into the season.

The Potomac Nationals face the Down East Wood Ducks at 7:05 p.m. in Woodbridge, Va. on Tuesday. About 45 minutes north, the major league Nationals will host the New York Mets at 7:05, hoping to get Turner back soon and turn a down season around.

“Just let him go out there and really get in the feel of the game again,” Manager Dave Martinez said Tuesday of what he is looking for in Turner’s rehab appearances. “Seeing balls off the bat defensively, getting at-bats and just getting back in the swing of playing nine innings.

Turner, 25, has been sorely missed as the Nationals have cycled through Wilmer Difo and top prospect Carter Kieboom as replacement options. Neither was able to fill the void he left behind, and Turner’s absence has played a significant role in the team’s 16-24 start. When healthy, Turner is a fixture atop the Nationals’ order, one of the league’s best base stealers, a surprising power hitter and strong in the field. The Nationals have missed all of it, with their offense dragging and defensive mistakes piled up.

Turner began the season with two home runs and four stolen bases in a three-game series against the New York Mets. Then he squared to bunt in his first at-bat on April 2, was hit in the finger by a Zach Eflin fastball, and essentially disappeared.

The initial time frame for Turner’s recovery was six to eight weeks. He joins Potomac exactly six Tuesdays since the injury and it is unclear how many rehab appearances he will make. Turner has progressed ahead of schedule, according to him and Martinez, but the Nationals will guard against rushing him back. He has been fielding for a few weeks now and recently began throwing at full strength across the infield. Over the weekend in Los Angeles, he took on-field batting practice and faced high-velocity fastballs in the cage to refresh his timing and also test his finger against harder contact.

The results were good, Martinez noted Sunday, and the final step is for Turner to feel 100 percent throwing and comfortable at game speed. That is the purpose of minor league assignments, to knock the rust off with the stakes low, and Washington now awaits for the first reports on Turner out of Woodbridge.

The Nationals welcomed Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto off the injured list in the last week. Matt Adams, nursing a strained left shoulder, could be activated soon, too. Ryan Zimmerman, who’s been out with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, threw and took ground balls Tuesday and said he felt good afterward. But no injury has hurt quite like Turner’s, and his progress toward returning is a nice way to start a six-game home stand against the Mets and Chicago Cubs.

“He’s one of those premiere players and he’s one that makes our lineup go,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, he got hurt earlier in the season and our lineup misses that. His defense, everything, his base-running. Like I said, he’s electric, so hopefully we get him back here fairly soon and we pop him right back in that lineup and he gets us going.”


Mets (19-20)

Jeff McNeil, LF

Amed Rosario, SS

Robinson Cano, 2B

Pete Alonso, 1B

Michael Conforto, RF

Wilson Ramos, C

Brandon Nimmo, CF

Todd Frazier, 3B

Noah Syndergaard, P

Nationals (16-24)

Adam Eaton, RF

Victor Robles, CF

Juan Soto, LF

Anthony Rendon, 3B

Gerardo Parra, 1B

Brian Dozier, 2B

Yan Gomes, C

Wilmer Difo, SS

Jeremy Hellickson, P

More Nationals coverage:

Mets series preview: Nationals’ offense, back-end starters need to wake up

Boswell: Nationals are facing tough calls. The trick is knowing which ones not to make.

Why has the Nationals’ bullpen struggled so much? Preparation might play a part.