The Los Angeles Dodgers spent the first three weeks of the season piling up home runs. They entered Friday with 40 as a team, good for tops in the National League and second in the majors. Cody Bellinger was tied for the lead across baseball with 10. Joc Pederson was next, in a four-way tie with eight home runs.
In all, 12 Dodgers have hit home runs. Even pitcher Walker Buehler, who had never recorded an extra-base hit as a professional before this season, cracked one.
There’s one — notable — name not on the list.
“I’m fully aware of that,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “I don’t care. Man, I’m not necessarily a home run hitter. My goal is to get on base.”
Turner entered Friday with a .284 batting average and .375 on-base percentage. Both outputs are a shade under his percentages the past two seasons, but the difference isn’t noteworthy. Turns out neither is Turner’s home run total. Of Turner’s 93 career home runs, two have been hit in either March or April.
“It takes me a month to get my launch angle up,” Turner joked.
The raw total can be misleading. The 34-year-old Turner didn’t begin the season as an everyday player until 2016. Last year, a fractured wrist kept him out until May 15.
But Turner has hit a home run in 0.004 percent of his 436 career plate appearances in March and April. He’s hit a home run in 3.11 percent of his 2,922 career plate appearances in the months after that. The earliest Turner has hit a home run in a season in his career was a pinch-hit homer on April 27, 2015.
Turner wondered what his home run total is after reaching 100 at-bats in a season. Last season, he hit his first home run in his 41st plate appearance. In 2016, his first came in his 109th plate appearance. He finished the season with a career-high 27 home runs. It took until his 95th plate appearance in 2017. He hit 21 home runs that season. He began Friday with 80 plate appearances under his belt.
“It’s not necessarily a slow start,” Turner said. “Maybe slow slugging start, but not like a slow start, I guess. It could be worse. I could be hitting friggin’ .180 with no homers. So I’m not worried about it.”
Sborz waiting for his chance
The Dodgers called up Josh Sborz from triple-A Oklahoma City Sunday to add a fresh arm for a fatigued bullpen. Los Angeles had to use six relievers the previous day to traverse through nine innings in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Starters’ injuries and ineffectiveness left the relief corps exposed.
But things have changed since Sborz arrived. The Dodgers have had their starter log at least six innings in each of the past five games -- all wins. As a result, the bullpen hasn’t been used as much and Sborz entered Friday still not having made his major-league debut.
Sborz, 25, hasn’t pitched in a game since April 7. He threw his fourth bullpen session during the stretch at Miller Park on Friday in hopes of keeping a rhythm.
“I’m kind of getting some … for it, but I can’t complain,” Sborz said. “The starters are pitching really well. The bullpen’s doing well. The opportunity will come, though.”
Friday could’ve been Sborz’s final opportunity. The Dodgers plan on activating Hyun-Jin Ryu from the injured list to start Saturday and Sborz is the likeliest candidate to be taken off the roster to create room for the left-hander.
Sborz’s older brother, Jay, appeared in a game for the Detroit Tigers in 2010 before being sent back to the minors. Also 25 at the time, he sustained a major arm injury later in the season and never pitched professionally again.