Turner, right at home in red pinstripes, open to hitting anywhere in ‘fun' lineup


Trea Turner looked mighty comfortable in red pinstripes Thursday, and it wasn't because he'd worn them before. (His old college team, the Wolfpack of North Carolina State, wears them.) On the day the superstar shortstop was introduced at Citizens Bank Park, he looked at ease and at home because, well ...

"We just pictured ourselves here," he said, nodding toward his family. "I pictured myself in this uniform."

It's all real now. Four days after agreeing to an 11-year, $300 million contract, Turner pulled on his new jersey -- No. 7 -- and explained why he passed on a richer offer ($342 million) from the San Diego Padres to join the Phillies.

"I was lucky enough to have some good offers on the table," he said. "Money wasn't necessarily the number one option for us."

Kristen Turner, Trea's wife and college sweetheart, hails from Flemington, N.J., about an hour from Philadelphia. The couple has a young son, Beckham.

In addition to geography, Turner liked the idea of reuniting with former Washington teammates Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber, as well as Kevin Long, his former hitting coach with the Nationals.

"My wife pictured living here and having family come and visit," Turner said. "We pictured playing with Bryce and Schwarber and a lot of those guys on the team now. Kevin Long.

"It seemed like a lot of those things added up and pointed us in this direction, and we were excited about it."

There was something else that lured Turner to Philadelphia. He watched the Phillies' postseason run, saw those electric crowds and those eight sellouts at Citizens Bank Park. He wanted to be part of it all. And, of course, he wants to help the Phillies get those two more wins and a World Series championship.

"This place is fun to play," he said. "We watched a lot of the playoff games. This place was rockin'. Just a lot of things pointed in this direction. We felt really comfortable and really happy. We're really excited."

The Phillies leadership team of president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, general manager Sam Fuld and manager Rob Thomson visited with Turner and his wife at their Florida home before Thanksgiving.

Turner wasn't the only free-agent shortstop that the Phillies visited with.

But he was the guy they wanted.

"They told me right there that I was their number one target," Turner said. "They were going to look at other players, obviously, because they've got a job to do. But they told me that. From right then and there I expected them to come after us hard and try to do everything they could to get us in a Phillies uniform. And I took them seriously from the get-go. I just asked them to be honest with me and they were, and here we are." 

Turner, 29, has a National League batting title on his resume. He's a two-time stolen base champ and a two-time All-Star, an extra-base hit machine. He's finished in the top 11 of NL MVP voting three times. He won a World Series with Washington in 2019.

Turner sports a lifetime on-base percentage of .355. He can hit in prime real estate -- first, second or third in a lineup.

So where will he hit in the Phillies' lineup?

Batting him leadoff in front of some of the team's thunder bats makes sense. Schwarber was the primary leadoff man in 2022. He's not a typical leadoff man -- he led the NL in homers (46) and strikeouts (200), had just a .317 on-base percentage out of the top spot and stole just 10 bases -- but the team did make it to Game 6 of the World Series with him batting leadoff. Schwarber fueled a June revival for the team (19 wins, 8 losses) with 12 homers and 27 RBIs while batting exclusively leadoff throughout the month. All of this deserves respect. 

"I talked to Schwarb," Thomson said. "Schwarb is Schwarb. He prefers to lead off, but now you've got a guy like Trea Turner. That can change things. We have a lot of conversations to go through. But if you were to look in the dictionary at leadoff hitter or No. 2 hitter, (Turner's) face would be on it."

Turner revealed that he spoke with Schwarber by telephone Thursday morning and Schwarber asked him where he wanted to hit.

"We have a pretty good leadoff hitter," Turner said, referring to Schwarber. He then laughed. "He stole a lot of bases last year. I don't know if I want to kick him out of there.

"I don't know. I think it's going to be fun playing in this lineup, top to bottom. There's so many guys that can contribute. I don't really have a preference. Truthfully, I don't really care.

"But I'm going to give Schwarbs a hard time."

Turner said that kiddingly. Schwarber can certainly take it. The Phillies of 2022 had wonderful team chemistry and it all started with Schwarber, a producer on the field and inclusive team leader in the clubhouse.

Turner saw it in Washington when the two were teammates. He saw the chemistry as an opponent with the Dodgers this season and again on TV during Red October. He's eager to be part of it.

"I think you can see it," he said. "It's hard to fake that. You can see guys in the dugout and on TV, obviously, you talk to these guys -- Kevin Long, Schwarber, Bryce, they all said how good the clubhouse is and how good the guys are. It's very noticeable. And it's special when that happens. It's hard to do because every year it's a new team, new players. But last year, the guys definitely had it."

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