Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 5/12/13
North Carolina State sophomore shortstop Trea Turner is fast. But there are a lot of fast baseball players who cant steal bases the way Turner does. Any time hes on the base paths, it almost feels inevitable that hell steal at least one. He causes opposing pitchers to worry about him constantly, and with good reason. As a freshman, Turner stole 57 bases on 61 attempts (93.4 percent). His 57 steals were more than 158 teams had combined. This year, hes 23-of-28 (82.1 percent) and hed likely have more - or even a higher percentage - if not for an ankle injury that caused him to miss nearly three weeks. N.C. State is 34-5 with Turner in the lineup and 5-6 without him. At first, he waited for his coaches to tell him when to try to steal. Last year, I didnt know I got to go whenever I wanted so I kept relying on them for about 20 or so steals. Then (head coach Elliott) Avent started yelling at me and asking me why Im not going. Now, its basically I can go whenever I want, Turner said. Theres a few times theyll tell me no, but those are only in big situations where we cant make an out. For the most part, I can do whatever I want. This year, Ive slipped up a little bit. I try not to get picked off and I try to make it 100 percent. The times he was caught stealing seem to bother him almost as much as he enjoys successfully stealing a base. And he really enjoys stealing bases. He didnt realize it was a talent until he was a senior in high school, when he stole 20-something bases in less than 30 games. But high school is high school, and Turner was significantly faster than his competition. He still didnt realize he could be good at it until he started doing it on the collegiate level with surprising ease. This past year, freshman year, I would say 20 or so (stolen) bases in I started to believe that I was that good at it, Turner said. I guess I always have been, but I didnt believe it until last year. Hes not good at stealing bases just because he's fast. In high school, he stole bases that way, just on his sheer speed. But in college, he had to work at it. You have to know a lot about baseball. You have to know the counts. You have to know when pitchers are going to throw what. You have to know what pitchers got to do, how their pickoff (moves) are, Turner said. Youve also got to relax. You cant put too much pressure on yourself or you cant get too antsy because you can either give yourself away or leave early like Ive done a little bit this year and get picked off. I would say theres a little bit of science going into it, not just being fast. North Carolina pitcher Kent Emanuel has as good a move as any pitcher the Wolfpack have faced this year, and it was fascinating to watch Emanuel and Turner play cat-and-mouse with each other two weeks ago in Raleigh in the opening game of the series between the teams. North Carolina won the game 7-1, but Turner went 2-for-2 on steal attempts against the talented lefty. Turner studies the moves of opposing pitchers, as much as that is possible. North Carolina is on TV enough that he could study Emanuel, but in midweek games, he often has to learn the tendencies of pitchers as he goes. I try to find out what he moves to go to the plate and what he moves to come over. Sometimes, they pick up their legs first; sometimes shoulders, elbows. Theres a lot of things you can look at in order to get the jump, Turner said. Some things theyll do to pick over and some things theyll do to pitch. Its different with everybody, but the sooner you find that out the easier it is. ... The faster I can get it, the faster I can steal a base. Even if Im not on base, Ive got to pay attention and make sure I can see if he picks off or what he does so if Im on base the next inning or two innings, I already know. Stealing bases can be fun. But Turner has a high steal percentage because hes smart, and careful. If he were reckless, hed get picked off a lot more. But his goal when he gets on base isnt necessarily to steal. Its to run the bases intelligently, move up when he can and - perhaps most importantly - help his team get runs. And if he can get from first to third with some smart base running, hes more than willing to do that. I take a lot of pride in getting on base, being able to steal two bases and then a sac fly scoring me, Turner said. Its just maybe one hit when Im on base and it could be a run. So I take a lot of pride in that and thats why I try to work on it and be as best as I can at it, just because I know that it helps out my team a lot.
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