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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Nationals believe Trea Turner can help them catch the NL East-leading Mets, even if it's not quite clear how just yet.
The 22-year-old shortstop, one of baseball's top prospects, was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse and made his major league debut Friday, joining crowded middle infield as Washington began a nine-game homestand.
Turner replaces Tyler Moore, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left ankle. He was batting .322 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 116 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
Washington began the day four games behind New York.
"We wanted to get another right-handed bat that could help us," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said. "We thought Trea was going to be a September call-up anyways, just, we felt, maybe this is a time to inject a little more speed, youth and athleticism into the ballclub."
Although primarily a shortstop in the minors, Turner could see time at second base and is likely to be eased into action, Rizzo said. He came on in the seventh inning at short Friday as part of a double switch, going 0 for 2 in Washington's 10-3 loss to Milwaukee.
"He takes a while to warm up to each level that he's played at," Rizzo said. "So we're not expecting him to be the savior of the offense or the savior of the ballclub. We just want him to do what he does best."
Washington already has depth at its middle infield spots, though offensive production has lagged.
Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is hitting .227 with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs this season, but is .274 with eight of those homers since the All-Star break. Second baseman Anthony Rendon is batting .247 over 40 games after dealing with separate knee and quadriceps injuries early in the season and utility man Danny Espinosa is .248 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs.
Desmond welcomes the move.
"This is about winning right now," he said. "It's not about personal agendas here. This is about the Nationals and getting Ws and that's got to be our focus."
Turner was acquired to complete a three-team deal made in December that brought rookie right-hander Joe Ross to the Nationals and sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay.
He said Friday afternoon he's not yet been advised how he'll fit in the Nationals' plans.
"(They) just told me to get ready and kind of approach every game like I would anywhere else," Turner said. "And just try and do whatever I can. Whatever they need me to. Pinch running, defense, it doesn't matter to me. If I get a start here and there, it's alright."
Moore goes on the DL retroactive to Wednesday. Right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett (right elbow sprain) was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for Turner on the 40-man roster.
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