- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner teared up as he addressed the media pregame at Nationals Park for the first time since offensive tweets from 2011 and 2012 were exposed Sunday.

“It’s not when I said the things I said,” Turner said, “it’s that I said them at all.”

Those tweets included off-color references to the LGTBQ, black and disabled communities and were sent while Turner was a teenager. Turner didn’t brush off the messages because of how old he was.

Before his press conference, Turner spoke to his teammates and manager Dave Martinez said he could tell he was sincere because Turner cried when talking to the first-year skipper.

“A tweet’s a tweet, obviously, no matter your age,” Martinez said. “He heavily regrets putting that out there. He cried, which I expected. But I think moving forward, he understands, and he wants to make things right.”

Turner was the latest MLB player to have offensive tweets exposed, following Brewers pitcher Josh Hader of Millersville, Maryland, and Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb. Hader’s tweets surfaced during the MLB All-Star Game while Newcomb’s were discovered Sunday too, shortly after Newcomb nearly threw a no-hitter for Atlanta.

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle tweeted a thread Monday in which he highlighted the importance of acceptance in the MLB while expressing regret that racist and homophobic language comes from within the league.

When Doolittle met with media Tuesday, he prefaced his first answer by saying he didn’t “want people to think in any way that I was piling on Trea or that I was attacking him. I was trying to provide a little bit of context.”

Since Turner’s tweets surfaced, Doolittle said he has spoken with Turner a few times.

“I think he stood up and accepted responsibility and really expressed a lot of remorse for what he said,” Doolittle said. “It’s a tough thing to grapple with having something that you said as a 17 or 18-year-old come back to haunt you a little bit later in life. I think sometimes, when you’re that age, you might know those things are wrong to say, but maybe you don’t know anybody that’s been personally affected by them. It’s tough for you to really understand the damage, the real damage, that they can and do cause.”

“I think at that age, that’s kind of just an abstract concept,” Doolittle continued. “You don’t think about the scope that you might have one day, the impact that your words might have one day when you’re all grown up, and I really just hope this can be a learning thing.”

Turner suspects it will be, not just for him but fans. Since joining the Nationals, he has participated in MLB’s “Shred Hate” campaign, a bullying prevention program. He also said he has read the thoughts of fans on social media. Turner said he wants to use his platform as an athlete for good. He’ll work on that in the future.

“I don’t always talk about growing as a [person], but that’s something I think I’ve done a lot in the last two years,” Turner said. “Throughout your life, you learn. Things change. People change.”

Outfielder Adam Eaton said the clubhouse accepted Turner’s apology.

“There’s really no room for that type of talk or language in the game of baseball, or really in America or the world,” Eaton said. “With that being said, the year and a half I’ve known Trea, he’s been an outstanding person to all walks of life.”

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