Trea Turner won a game with his legs, but Phillies might have to live without him


PHILADELPHIA — It is difficult to score from second base on a walk, but Trea Turner makes baseball look simple. It is his gift. It’s why his smooth slides are GIFs. It is why he sees a ball skip by a catcher and notices that no one is reacting like Turner is on base — ready to pounce.

“I was saying don’t do it,” Bryson Stott said. “But it’s Trea.”

“I didn’t expect him to go,” Aaron Nola said. “I don’t think they really did either. And that’s kind of the player he is.”

Turner ran hard to third, then kept running in the fourth inning Friday night. His left hamstring stiffened a few steps from home plate. He slipped his foot under San Francisco Giants starter Jordan Hicks’ glove for the fourth Philadelphia Phillies run.

“It won us a ball game,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said after the 4-3 triumph that vaulted his team to 22-11. “It was a great play.”

It probably came at a cost. Turner will miss at least a few days with soreness in that hamstring. The Phillies planned to have him further evaluated on Saturday. Turner expressed some concern; he could still feel the soreness hours after being removed from the game.

The Phillies are playing at a 108-win pace, and greater tests await. They are wise to bank as many wins as possible because injuries like Turner’s happen. It’s easier to overcome adversity if the Phillies aren’t digging themselves from a deep hole. They were not 11 games over .500 last season until Aug. 8.

Turner is a big reason for the fast start in 2024. He’s hitting .343/.392/.460.

“I hate being hurt,” Turner said. “I promise you it’s not going to be fun for the training staff because I just wear them out. They’ll want me on the field more than I want to be on the field, sadly.”

The club was still assessing the situation Friday night. If Turner’s absence is only a few days, Thomson said Edmundo Sosa would be the shortstop. But, if Turner needs to go on the injured list, the Phillies could apply a more creative solution.

Stott has not played shortstop since Game 6 of the 2022 World Series. It’s like riding a bike, right?

“I’ve definitely played more short in my life,” Stott said. “I don’t know. I guess I’ll let you know if it happens.”

Teams plan for all contingencies when they build a roster. They’d rather not consider some of those scenarios — like a 10-day absence for the star shortstop — but it’s malpractice to not think about it. It’s one reason why the Phillies were drawn to Whit Merrifield as the cornerstone of the bench. He protected the club in different ways. Merrifield, a natural second baseman, could play there regularly while Stott moves over.

“If it’s 10 days, I don’t imagine playing every game at short,” Stott said. “I can, and I would. … If that’s what they want me to do, I’ll slide right over.”

Sosa, who committed another throwing error after entering for Turner, was exposed last season with regular playing time. He’s a serviceable reserve. If Turner is missing, the Phillies are probably best with Merrifield and Stott up the middle. More at-bats could help Merrifield, who has seen better results in the past two weeks, find his timing.

Stott said he’s taken some balls at shortstop with Turner a few times a week to keep his arm moving. The biggest difference on that side of the diamond is the longer throw. A few months after the World Series loss, Turner signed an 11-year deal with the Phillies, and Stott traveled to Bobby Dickerson’s home in Mississippi. The veteran infield coach began to drill Stott on the nuances of second base; that has been the focus ever since.

Stott was a Gold Glove finalist last season — his first full season at second base. The Phillies do not want to disrupt his work there, but a week or two at shortstop would not do that.

“We’d have to talk about it,” Thomson said.

The Phillies do not have robust middle-infield depth in the minors. Weston Wilson has struggled with a .483 OPS in his first 105 plate appearances this season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Rodolfo Castro, a switch-hitting infielder on the 40-man roster, has been sidelined with shoulder inflammation. He has played one game in the past 33 days. Scott Kingery has started the most games at shortstop for Lehigh Valley. He has a .762 OPS there. He is not on the 40-man roster.

Turner missed 11 days with a strained right hamstring in April 2017. He has been on the injured list only twice since then — both times for broken bones. He said this hamstring ailment does not compare to the one he had seven years ago.

“They seemed pretty positive in the training room, so I was pretty happy with that,” Turner said. “Or at least more positive than what I had thought.”

Turner could steal more bases if he wanted, but as he’s gotten older, he has preached the virtue of preservation. He is willing to sacrifice a few extra bags if it keeps him on the field more. Turner is still aggressive when he sees an opening.

It was a big run Friday night.

“I thought it would have taken a great play to get me out,” Turner said.

He was right — even with the sore hamstring at the very end. If the Phillies are without Turner for a few days, so be it. If it’s longer, they might have traded that run for a loss. But it’s May and the Phillies are cruising.

It could sting. It could be worse.

“It’s a huge loss,” Thomson said. “I mean, he’s Trea Turner. He’s one of the best players in baseball. If that happens — I don’t know what the results are going to be. We’ll find out more.”

(Photo of Trea Turner scoring ahead of Jordan Hicks’ tag in the fourth inning: Chris Szagola / Associated Press)

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