Trea Turner: 'Less pressure' in Dave Martinez camp

Chris Lingebach
March 21, 2018 - 10:23 am

The Sports Junkies

Hope springs eternal each spring, but there's a different mood in the air at Nationals camp, says shortstop Trea Turner.

"It's been good," Turner told The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "I've really enjoyed getting the chance to work with the new staff. I think it's gonna be great. I've just had a lot of fun. It's been really relaxing. I don't feel like there's this pressure. Like, maybe in the last few years, I feel like there may have been a pressure, or like an urgency."

"Like, pressure to impress? Pressure to make the team?" he was asked.

"Oh, no. Well, yeah. I guess everybody has their own little individual battles, but I mean as a team," he said. "We've had a lot of fun with the camels and the little golf tournament thing we had. You know, it's a long season and I think sometimes you can worry about some things that aren't necessarily that meaningful. And obviously we're getting prepared and we want to be ready, which, I think we are, but you can have fun while doing it and I think we've done that."

Turner is working to hone his plate discipline this spring, realizing that, three MLB seasons deep, opposing staffs learned to pitch him differently last year.

"I didn't really care for some of the habits I created last year," he said. "I felt like I hit kind of completely different than I did in 2016, and I was just trying to get back to where I was in 2016."

Asked if he felt he was too aggressive at the plate in 2016, Turner said, "Oh, no. I mean, sure, I think swinging at bad pitches is always a thing anybody can improve. I don't think being too aggressive is a bad thing."

"Everyone's mad that I hit the first pitch all the time," he said, "but the MVP in the AL hit like .460 on the first pitch last year. So, obviously it just depends whether you do it well or not, and my first year, I think I did it well. And now, last year, I didn't. I think it's also they pitched me differently.

"In 2016, they didn't want me to steal bases and they didn't want to walk me. Last year, they didn't care and I had a hard time realizing that. You know, I'd get into a 3-2 count or a 3-1 count, and I'm like, 'They don't want to walk me. They're gonna throw me a decent pitch to hit.' And they didn't. They would throw me a lot of off-speed, they'd throw me balls in the dirt. For me, that was kind of hard to comprehend, why they would take the chance, but that's what they did and they had success with it, so I just need to improve on that and kind of mature, I guess."

Even under the new coaching staff of Dave Martinez, Turner -- who swiped 46 bags in only 98 games last year -- doesn't expect his approach on the base paths to change much.

"For me -- and I know it's a different staff, so don't get me wrong here -- but I feel like it's gonna be a lot like last year," he said. "I had that green light and then there was times where they put the red light on me. Obviously it was not that often, but you still get it throughout a course of game, even if it's for a pitch here or there or an at-bat here or there.

"I kind of expect the same thing. Obviously I'm gonna try to be as aggressive as I can, and any opportunity I have to steal, I want to take advantage of it, but I'm sure there will be times where they put the red light on and that's just the game of baseball."

The 24-year-old has taken full advantage of the close proximity of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to his hometown, only a 20-minute drive from his high school in Lake Worth, Florida.

"I'm constantly giving tickets (away). I'm leading the ticket board, probably," he joked. "But, no, it's great having (family) around. Almost every Sunday I eat with my parents, my grandpa, and then I get a chance to see my aunts and uncles, my sister, friends from home that I grew up with, some of my best friends that I still keep in touch with all the time. I went to dinner with a couple of them last night. So it's good to have kind of that hometown feel."

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