Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Justin Turner from his team’s win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday early and didn’t include the third baseman in the Dodgers’ lineup Saturday. But Turner, Roberts insisted, isn’t injured. He’s just taken a beating recently and the Dodgers are practicing caution.
“It’s just kind of like what we do as far as injury prevention,” Roberts said. “It's not an injury but [this is] to make it not an injury.”
Turner, who crowds the plate, was hit by a pitch in four straight games before he fouled a pitch off his shin against the Cincinnati Reds on May 17. He exited the game two innings later and was limited to a pinch-hit appearance the next day before returning to the Dodgers’ lineup last Sunday. The ricochet swelled up to the size “a baseball,” Turner said, and a nasty bruise remained all week.
Roberts said playing two games on the hard surface at Tropicana Field this week didn’t help. Neither did the slide Turner used to steal a base in the first inning Friday. Constant maintenance, Roberts said, is important to keep the 34-year-old Turner healthy.
“I think we just have the luxury of running other guys out there when we feel good that we still have a good chance to win a game and there's not a big dropoff,” Roberts said. “That's why I think that if you look at August, September, the last couple years, Justin over the last couple of years has stayed fresh and performed.”
Turner’s production has followed a familiar pattern this season. He got off to another slow start before turning it around as the calendar flipped from April to May. After going until April 30 without a home run, Turner has since hit six while batting .303 with a 1.011 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
The turnaround coincided with an adjustment Turner made midgame against the San Francisco Giants on April 30. After starting the season with an open stance, Turner closed it off, becoming more square facing the pitcher. He hit his first homer that night at Oracle Park and has remained square since then — and he’ll stay that way until it doesn’t feel right.
“I’m constantly tinkering with open, closed, starting on my toes, starting flat-footed,” Turner said. “So, I mean, it’s just another adjustment that I made that for, right now, it’s what feels good. It’s not to say that at some point I won’t open back up because that’s the adjustment that needs to be made at the time.”
Pedro Baez is unavailable again
Dodgers right-hander Pedro Baez was unavailable again Saturday, according to Roberts, four days after taking a line drive off his right knee against the Tampa Bay Rays. Roberts said Baez threw off a mound Friday for the first time since the scare, tossing 15 pitches to test the knee out, but didn’t appear ready to pitch in a game. Roberts said Baez will be available Sunday.