- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2015

PEORIA, Ariz. — Trea Turner was one of the last players to walk off Field 6 at the San Diego Padres’ spring training complex, emerging from the tarp-shielded dugout with a navy bag strapped to his back and three bats protruding from the top.

Much has changed over the last year for Turner, who was a junior at N.C. State last fall before the Padres selected him with the No. 13 pick in the MLB draft this past June. And, much will also change over the next year, with the shortstop certain to swap those early-morning workouts in the dry heat of the Arizona desert for the humidity of Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Turner, 21, was provisionally traded from the Padres to the Washington Nationals in late November, part of the three-team, 11-player trade headlined by San Diego’s acquisition of outfielder Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays.

He just hasn’t yet made it there. Turner was included in the deal as a player to be named later, considering major-league transaction rules prohibit an individual from being traded by a team until a year after he was drafted.

That means Turner can’t join his new teammates in Viera, Florida this spring — and he won’t be part of the organization until he escapes purgatory on June 13.

“I’ve taken it both ways,” Turner said. “I’ve gotten a little bit angry about it and I’ve also seen the other side of it. Obviously, it’s a new experience to me, so I didn’t really know what to think. Emotions go up and down and all that, but it says a lot about them if they wanted me that bad, so I’m trying to be positive about it and focus on those kinds of things.”

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Turner is considered the Padres’ No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America, and is likely to be regarded in a similar manner when he becomes property of the Nationals. He was immediately pegged as Washington’s shortstop of the future, though he’s not likely to make his major-league debut until 2017 at the earliest.

Such an arrangement isn’t entirely unprecedented, though the length of time Turner will spend with the Padres makes it unique. In 2011, the Cleveland Indians traded left-hander Drew Pomeranz to the Colorado Rockies, but he merely sat out two weeks before joining his new team. By the time Turner is eligible to join the Nationals, he’ll have spent 109 days with San Diego.

Turner’s agent, Jeff Berry, told Fox Sports after the trade was announced that he was considering filing a grievance in conjunction with the MLB Players Association that would permit Turner to immediately join the Nationals.

Berry didn’t respond to requests for comment, but did release a statement when Turner reported to Padres camp last month that said his client “has put this matter behind him and is focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization.”

The Nationals, meanwhile, have declined to address the specifics of the trade, maintaining only that the team has submitted to the Padres a list of players from whom it will choose at a later point.

“I mean, you can’t worry about stuff you can’t control,” Turner said. “When you get your opportunity to do whatever it is, you’ve got to make the most of it.”

Turner spent two weeks in big-league camp with the Padres before being reassigned to minor-league camp on March 9. He has played in four spring training games, getting two at-bats and stealing a base, and has made four minor-league appearances, playing the whole game twice.

His goal this spring was to focus on slowing down his hitting and seeing pitches, and he has used the time around the Padres’ big-league club to learn from others about specific drills and stretching techniques he can incorporate into his own routine.

The organization hasn’t given Turner any indication where he’ll be assigned when spring training ends — Turner finished last season at Single-A Fort Wayne — but he hopes to be assigned to one of the Padres’ higher-level teams in order to be challenged.

And while Turner admitted his teammates have, at times, joked about his pending departure — “You can’t take it too seriously,” he said — he considers it “a big compliment” that the Nationals wanted him badly enough that they were willing to withstand the technicalities of the trade.

“Obviously, baseball is a team sport, but I think baseball, overall, is an individual sport as well — for everybody, not just me,” Turner said. “I’ve always tried to be the best player I can be, and I’m still striving to do that, but at the same time, I like winning, so regardless of who I’m playing for, I want to win, and I’ll do that wherever they put me.”

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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