As if the Dodgers didn’t have enough injury woes, they’re trying to come to grips with the possibility that Justin Turner, their most consistent hitter and a driving force behind their World Series run in 2017, could be diminished for much of this season by the fractured left wrist he suffered in spring training.
The third baseman was out of the lineup for the third time in four games Friday night, and manager Dave Roberts said Turner may not play Saturday. In 20 games since being activated May 15, he is hitting .243 with a .668 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, with one homer and 10 RBIs.
“There’s some pain,” Roberts said. “How sharp it is, I don’t know. But for right now, for the next couple of months, it’s kind of the new normal for him. To expect him to be pain free for the next couple of months is probably not going to happen, so how can we keep it so it’s tolerable?”
Turner hit .322 with a .945 OPS, 21 homers, 32 doubles and 71 RBIs last season. He indicated earlier this week in Pittsburgh that the wrist still didn’t feel 100% after sitting out the first 40 games. Tuesday was the first time “it’s really flared up,” he said.
Roberts could tell by Turner’s swing that something wasn’t right.
“For him to not be able to release the barrel with his bottom hand and do the one-hand finish like we’re accustomed to seeing … it’s limiting him,” Roberts said. “So I had a conversation with him, and he acknowledged that it is limiting.
“He felt much better [Thursday]. I assume it will get better by not taking batting practice [on Friday], and we’ll reevaluate him [Saturday]. It’s not a definitive ‘no’ for Saturday, but I see him playing Sunday.”
Get a grip
Rich Hill, on the disabled list since May 20 because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, is scheduled to throw a four-inning simulated game Saturday. If he has no setbacks, he said he believes he can return to the rotation next week without making a minor league start.
“I want to pitch here, given the state we’re in,” Hill said, alluding to the fact that four of five opening-day starters — Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the others — are on the DL. “It’s just coming along well.”
Hill was expected to be out for a month. He credits an increase in laser treatments — as many as nine a day — for expediting the healing process.
“I’ve tried laser treatments before, but not as frequent,” Hill said. “It really seems to help, especially early on, when it was more of an open wound.”
Hill, bothered by blisters since 2016, suggested in 2017 that changes in the height or width of the seams in the baseball may have caused his problems.
He felt vindicated when Dr. Meredith Wills, a sports data scientist who previously worked in astrophysics, deconstructed and examined 26 baseballs and found that the laces on the 2016-2017 balls were 9% thicker than those used in 2014. She reported her findings in a story for The Athletic on Wednesday.
“We have solid evidence that there was a change in the baseballs, it’s not just a theory,” Hill said. “I don’t think I need to change my grip. I’ve been playing with major league baseballs for 13-14 years, and I never had to deal with anything like this until the seams changed.”