'Got to grind it out': Phillies' struggling Trea Turner turns to extra hitting sessions, gets standing ovations
Jun 29, 2023
Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner reaches for a throw in the fifth inning of a recent game.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
As the Phillies gathered to take batting practice on the field Friday at Citizens Bank Park, Trea Turner asked hitting coach Kevin Long to follow him into the indoor cage for more personalized instruction.
They didn’t resurface until game time.
Turner is in the midst of the worst season of his career. By far. At any level. It isn’t only that he was a .302/.355/.487 hitter entering this season after batting .310/.374/.451 in the minors. Machinelike consistency was his signature. He never batted below .271 or had an OPS lower than .760 in any season.
His numbers entering the weekend: .235/.290/.368 (.657 OPS).
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The Phillies are trying everything to kick-start their struggling $300 million shortstop. Manager Rob Thomson dropped him to eighth in the batting order. Long stayed with Turner for a late-night hitting session Wednesday night in Miami, even though the Phillies had a day game Thursday.
And the Phillies began a 10-game homestand Friday night, fans followed through on a social media and sports-talk radio campaign to show support for Turner by giving him standing ovations before his at-bats rather than booing him as many have throughout the season. “It doesn’t surprise me, just because I know how passionate our fans are and how much they love this ballclub,” Thomson said. “I’ve said all along, I love them for it because they tell you when you’re playing well and when you’re not playing well. That’s what a fan base should do, really. But yeah, it doesn’t surprise me.”
For much of the season, Turner has expressed confidence that he would turn things around. His track record suggested as much. It seemed to be a matter of time.
But Turner recently has seemed to express more doubt, perhaps because he has never dealt with such a prolonged slump.
“[It was] the farthest thing from my mind from how the last four or five seasons have been,” Turner said. “I think my worst season was 2018 [he batted .271], and I would take that year way over this year. I never really thought we’d be here, but we are.”
“Got to grind it out. Can’t get it all back in one day. Build on small things and try to win us ballgames.”
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Thomson said he wants Turner to relax. It’s part of the reason why he moved him down in the batting order. But late nights in the cage and personal hitting sessions aren’t the actions of a player who is relaxed.
Maybe support from the fans during a long homestand will help.
“Maybe. We’ll see,” Thomson said. “I don’t know what the reaction’s going to be from fans. But I guess it could be helpful. You never know.”
McGarry to triple A
The Phillies promoted pitching prospect Griff McGarry to triple-A Lehigh Valley, even though command continues to be an issue in his climb to the majors.
In 13 double-A starts, McGarry posted a 3.13 ERA, including a 2.57 mark in his last seven starts. But he also had a 15.6% walk rate, up from his 14.6% rate between three levels (high-A Jersey Shore, double-A Reading, and Lehigh Valley) last season.
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McGarry issued nine walks in nine innings over his last two starts, including five in four innings Thursday. His best start came July 21, when he struck out 10 batters in seven scoreless, walk-free innings.
The Phillies “didn’t engage” in trade-deadline talks about McGarry or fellow pitching prospect Mick Abel, according to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Last season, they briefly considered calling up McGarry as a reliever in September. All of his appearances this season have come as a starter.
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