In the bottom of the seventh inning of Washington’s 5-4 loss to the Cubs, Turner was hit in the right wrist by a 96 mph fastball from Chicago reliever Pedro Strop. Turner glanced briefly at Strop, then walked slowly to first base.
The 24-year old shortstop remained in the game and caught a pop-up in the top of the eighth inning, but was replaced in the top of the ninth by reserve infielder Wilmer Difo.
“I didn’t know,” Turner said. “I had tape on my wrist, so initially it didn’t feel that bad. But I went out there and tried throwing. It hurt to lob the ball, but it felt fine when I threw it as hard as I could or basically full speed.
“So I stayed in there a little bit, and then after a little while it started stiffening up on me so I figured I’d get out of there. In a close game, didn’t want to make a double-cut play or whatever it might be. I figured (Stephen) Drew might have a better shot or Difo. They’d have a better shot at playing some defense.”
X-rays confirmed the break. The Nationals did not give a timetable for Turner’s return to the team.
“It sucks,” he said. “I’m trying to have a good at-bat right there. You wish it hit you in the back or arm or something — not the hand or wrist, which is never fun. I thought about Freddie Freeman earlier in the year, that’s no fun. It is what it is, you have to roll with it.”
Freeman broke his left wrist when he was hit by a pitch on May 17, and his original timetable to return was 10 weeks. But the Atlanta Braves slugger has recovered a bit ahead of schedule, and he is slated to begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend.
Turner’s injury is a huge blow to the first-place Nationals, who lost original leadoff man Adam Eaton on April 28 to a torn ACL. Although at first Turner struggled replacing Eaton at the top of the lineup, he has been one of the game’s most productive table setters over the last month and a half.
The runner-up in last year’s NL Rookie of the Year voting, Turner tied a franchise record Tuesday when he stole four bases against the Cubs.
He swiped two more Thursday, giving him 22 steals in June, and a major league-leading 35 on the season.
A former first-round pick out of North Carolina State, Turner is hitting .279 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs on the year.
In Turner’s absence, the Nationals will likely turn to Difo and veteran infielder Drew to fill the void at shortstop.