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Trea Turner thanks Phillies fans with billboards throughout Philadelphia

Phillies fans donate to V Foundation to show support for struggling Trea Turner
Phillies fans donate to V Foundation to show support for struggling Trea Turner 00:43

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Trea Turner used a simple message to express his appreciation for the way Phillies fans have stuck with him during a rough first season in town: "Thank You, Philly."

The message was splashed on 12 digital billboards in the greater Philadelphia area following a series when Philly fans — often billed as some of the worst in sports — gave Turner standing ovations in at-bats throughout the weekend. The idea to cheer Turner was hatched on social media and the slumping shortstop responded — he blasted a three-run homer in a win Saturday against the Royals.

Turner signed an 11-year, $300 million deal with the National League champions in the offseason, but he is batting just .238 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. He was even dropped to eighth in the batting order.

In three games over the weekend against Kansas City, Turner went 4 for 12 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs.

Turner was scheduled to bat seventh Monday in the opener of a four-game set against Washington before the game was rained out. The teams will play a single-admission doubleheader on Tuesday.

"I think it was nice to get the message out there and say thank you," Turner said Monday in the Phillies clubhouse. "I said it in interviews and whatnot but I think it was just another nice gesture."

RELATED: Some Phillies fans show support for struggling Trea Turner by donating to charity

The Phillies already rented the billboards and use them for a variety of reasons, usually to promote upcoming home games. Turner pitched in and made an undisclosed financial contribution in support of the message.

Turner broke into the majors with Washington in 2015. The two-time All-Star hit .300 with 192 steals in six-plus seasons with the Nationals, winning the World Series in 2019.

The 30-year-old Turner said he had never before made such a grand gesture to thank fans for their support.

"I feel like when you're younger, you don't think about things like that," Turner said. "You're just kind of living the dream or trying to play baseball and whatnot. As you get older, you start to see what's important. I'd never done anything to that magnitude."

Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper — another former Nationals slugger who won an NL MVP award with each team — said over the weekend he wished he started his career with the Phillies. Harper and Turner are the latest big names that have pushed back on the narrative that Philly can be a tough place to play because of the fans.

"Just such an incredible moment for him (Turner) to be able to go out there and know that the fans have his back and have our teams' back," he said on the postgame radio show. "That should be something for us too, as a team, to take advantage of and know like, they got us. No matter what, they got us."

The Phillies entered Monday tied with San Francisco for the first NL wild card. The Phillies are 36-19 over their last 55 games since June 3 and their .655 winning percentage over that same span is second in MLB behind only Atlanta. (37-15, .712).

The Phillies would earn home field in the first round of the playoffs should they end the season with the top wild card. The Phillies have sold out 25 of 51 games at Citizens Bank Park and are sixth in MLB in attendance.

"I think everybody knows what this building does to us and to other teams," manager Rob Thomson said. "That's the goal. That's the message."

More home games could be a key to sparking Turner in the postseason push. Over his last 35 games at Citizens Bank Park, Turner has posted a .783 OPS with 20 runs scored, 15 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and 11 walks.

"The guys especially that haven't been here before, that weren't in the playoff run last year, can see what great fans we have and how supportive they can be when you're playing well," Thomson said.

Or perhaps in Turner's case, even when they're not.

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