Justin Turner has become the Dodgers’ primary third baseman
Don Mattingly likes to say Justin Turner is not someone who can play six or seven games a week. He’s been saying it for two years now.
Like there’s something physical about Turner, 30, that would prevent him from being an everyday player. Something like?
“His knees,” Mattingly said.
Turner, however, has never been on the disabled list with a knee problem and said his knees are just fine. Maybe they just wouldn’t be if he played every day? Maybe Mattingly is trying to be diplomatic while juggling three players – Turner, Alex Guerrero and Juan Uribe – at third.
Still, Turner is the player getting most of the time at the hot corner. He’s back in the lineup Monday, and the way Mattingly has been using him, could be for the entire three-game series against the Braves.
Turner has started 13 of 20 games this month, even though he’s hit just .214 in his last 11 games (eight starts).
“We try to be three [games] on, one off and two on and one off,” Mattingly said. “Trying basically to not let him go too far at one time.”
He has started three consecutive games twice this month, but never four straight.
Turner was a revelation last season. Signed as a nonroster utility player, he hit .340 in 288 at-bats with seven home runs and 43 runs batted in. He started games at all four infield positions and has already started at each this season.
The most games he has ever appeared in were 117 for the Mets in 2011, so it’s not like he has a track record of appearing in 160 games a season. Mattingly likely does not want to wear him down, but his constant refrain of not being able to play six or seven days a week helps juggling playing time while trying to keep him fresh.
“My knees are fine,” Turner said. “I just play when my name’s in the lineup.”
Uribe hit .311 last season and has been the Dodgers’ primary third baseman for the last two seasons. Uribe, 36, is hitting .247 this season but with only three extra-base hits. He is still considered their best defensive third baseman.
“It’s tough with Alex and Justin right now,” Mattingly said. “We’re trying to put the best lineup out there. I do think as this continues on, there’s going to be a point where Juan’s going to be a valuable part. But right now, those two guys have been swinging the bat real well and playing solid defense.”
Pregame tidbits: Mattingly said catcher Yasmani Grandal (seven-day concussion DL) will play the next three days for triple-A Oklahoma City, but only as a designated hitter. He can be activated Saturday. … Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to throw live batting practice again Wednesday, then head to the team’s training camp in Phoenix. Brandon League (shoulder) will also head to Phoenix. … Mattingly said the Dodgers did not expect to alter their current rotation schedule, meaning they will need to call up a starter for the doubleheader scheduled at Coors Field June 2. … Hector Olivera is working out in Phoenix.
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