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Turner feels very close, explains why he doesn't want a rehab assignment

Turner feels very close, explains why he doesn't want a rehab assignment originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

LONDON — Trea Turner is getting close. Close enough that a return this week during the Phillies' series in Boston and Baltimore could be realistic, though neither he nor manager Rob Thomson have wanted to provide a specific timetable.

Turner strained his left hamstring on May 3 and has been out for five weeks. He initially expected to be sidelined for six.

"I feel like at this point, the injury is not gone, but we're past that," he said Sunday morning in London after taking a ton of groundballs. "It's getting my brain and body to kinda fire on all cylinders. I told them I would love to be ready tomorrow, but it's kinda weird, it's finicky. I've never dealt with anything like this where I feel good today, I feel a little worse (another day). It's kinda pushing those boundaries and trying to not have a setback. I would love to give you a day but I don't truly know. The sooner the better in my eyes."

Turner has gone hard throughout the entire rehab process. He's been itching for weeks to reenter the Phillies' lineup. He suffered a minor setback two weeks ago in Denver but has progressed back to the same place he was then, just without any soreness or tightness this time.

"I'm in the same place but a little better," he said. "In Denver, I was really tight. I could still feel my injury where I injured it. Now it's not that. I'm at the same threshold, running at the same intensity but the feelings are different, which is a good thing. I feel more comfortable doing stuff than I did then, felt like I was kinda pushing certain things and that's probably why I had that little setback. I feel like I'm at the same spot but in a better way."

Turner does not want to go on a rehab assignment. He doesn't think he needs one, similar to Bryce Harper last season in his return from Tommy John surgery.

"In my career, I've been on a couple of rehab assignments before. I never truly felt like they helped," he said. "It's more of checking boxes and making sure I feel good. I've been honest with them every step of the way. Communication's been good. I prefer not to do it. The swing feels good. I feel like at this point in my career, I'm pretty confident in myself.

"There are so many drills that I've learned since 2018-19 with the Nats, Dodgers and here of how to simulate things. I'm not saying I'm gonna be locked in the second I get back, but I feel good."

Turner's focus now isn't his speed, it's being able to run, field and hit without thinking about his hamstring.

"For me it's not running at a certain speed, it's more can I go run over there and not think about anything," he said. "I don't really care how fast I am per se, it's more of just not having a re-injury. That's why we're taking it a little slow. I could play in games at maybe a decreased intensity right now but I want to make sure that I'm over that hurdle.

"It's just that last hurdle of sprinting. Groundballs here the last two days went really good, pretty game-like, reaching for balls, all sorts of stuff felt really good, hitting felt good. It's just getting over that last hurdle of sprinting and being comfortable, scoring on hits and stuff like that."

Edmundo Sosa has thrived at shortstop in Turner's absence, hitting .302/.362/.547 with four doubles, four triples, three homers and 15 RBI in 27 games. He's also played elite defense. He's been so productive that the Phillies have pondered using him some in the outfield when Turner returns.

Sosa took reps in the outfield frequently last year but hasn't this season because he's been needed in the infield and the Phillies added Whit Merrifield to play left field in addition to second base.

"To me, it's very important that our manager is saying that," Sosa said. "I'm going to work there if needed and as with everything else I do, I'm going to give the best version of myself.

"I just want to live in the moment and try to have fun. We all know Trea Turner is a superstar and we all hope he comes back soon. We know he's one of the cornerstones of our team. I'm just going to keep doing my job the same every day and I'm willing to do whatever the manager wants me to do."