The Dodgers will open the defense of their National League championship with the leader of their offense on the disabled list.
Justin Turner suffered a broken left wrist when he was hit by a pitch in Monday’s Cactus League game against the Oakland Athletics. The Dodgers said they did not expect to have a timetable for their third baseman’s return until he visits a doctor Tuesday, but manager Dave Roberts said “weeks are involved.”
Said Turner: “There’s a lot of good baseball players in here. I don’t think we’ll miss a beat.”
It appears unlikely Turner could return before May. Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves missed six weeks because of a broken wrist last year; George Springer of the Houston Astros missed nine weeks because of a broken wrist in 2015.
Turner, the Dodgers' No. 3 hitter, batted .322 with 21 home runs last season, making the All-Star team for the first time and leading the team with a .945 OPS.
“We’re not as good a team without J.T.,” general manager Farhan Zaidi said. “No doubt about that.”
Roberts said the Dodgers are likely to move Cody Bellinger into the No. 3 spot in the lineup and move Logan Forsythe from second base to third. The Dodgers can play Chase Utley, Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes at second base. Roberts said they prefer to use Chris Taylor as the starter in center field and the backup at shortstop.
Zaidi said the Dodgers were “very confident” they could replace Turner without making a trade.
“It’s going to create an opportunity for playing time for guys that maybe deserve more playing time than they were slated to get,” Zaidi said.
Turner was hit by a pitch 19 times last season, ranking fourth in the National League. He was hit by Oakland’s Kendall Graveman in the first inning on Monday. Turner winced, took a few steps toward the Dodgers dugout, and eventually rolled on the ground in pain. He left the game immediately, then left the ballpark to get X-rays.
“It probably felt worse than any other one,” Turner said. “It’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate. I’ll do everything I can to get back as fast as I can.”
Turner said the pain had diminished by the time he got to the X-ray room, so he was hopeful the examination would reveal a bruise rather than a fracture.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It definitely wasn’t what I wanted to hear.”