The Washington Nationals’ Trea Turner met with Falls Church Kiwanis Little Leaguers Thursday and fielded some questions from the young players that were surprisingly hot to handle in an event aimed at boosting Fall Ball participation.
FCKLL players took full advantage of a bonus opportunity to hang with a professional player after receiving a visit from Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki earlier this year. Ten-year-old Jason Wattles was the Kiwanis designated “spokes player” and told the News-Press he was excited for Turner to come (despite longtime National Ryan Zimmerman being his favorite).
“I think it’s really nice that he got us shoes and is encouraging us to play. That’s cool,” Wattles said, who received complimentary cleats from Adidas for registering for Fall Ball prior to Aug. 2.
Wattles question was one of a few curveballs thrown Turner’s way during the question-and-answer portion of the event. When he asked the big leaguer whether he had any pets or not, Turner responded by saying it was a work in progress with his wife, Kristen, who was in attendance, and gave her a sly smile.
One Kiwanis player asked what Turner’s favorite and least favorite parks to hit in are. After diplomatically saying he liked Nationals Park, he became a bit more honest and said he likes hitting at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The crowd of parents and children in attendance let out a small chorus of boos. His least favorite park was simply “Any place that I don’t play well at.”
Turner was then asked who his favorite teammate was. He stalled for a beat before he said third baseman Anthony Rendon. And another player asked him if he ever gets scared about being hit when batting. Turner said not so much for the pitchers who don’t throw fast, but for the players who can hurl it in the upper 90s or — gulp — the low 100s, he gets a bit more nervous.
The 26-year-old big leaguer’s presence stemmed from a multi-year partnership with FCKLL. The Nationals, according to FCKLL’s communications and media outreach representative Kirsten Fatzinger, set up the opportunity to improve Fall Ball registration in the area. The free cleats were an effort to sweeten deal and early returns were promising. Fatzinger noted that year-over-year registration for Fall Ball, which is primarily about skills development, was up.
Fatzinger expressed the Kiwanis gratitude for the Nationals, Adidas, INOVA Healthcare, the Delta Dream Foundation, and of course, Turner, for making the event happen.