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Dodgers Dugout: Spring training is here and so is Justin Turner

Justin Turner
Justin Turner
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and spring is in the air.

As you read this, pitchers and catchers are working out at the Dodgers’ spring training facility. Next week, the full squad begin workouts. You know who will be joining them?

Justin Turner. He re-signed with the Dodgers at two years and $34 million with a $14-million club option for a third year. It’s nice to have him back in the fold, and he has been the heart of the Dodger offense for several seasons and their most consistent hitter.

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Some emailed me to ask if it was a mistake to bring him back after the World Series mask incident. It was not. While I wish he hadn’t come onto the field afterward, I also haven’t waited most of my life to win a World Series and spent six seasons with many of the same people coming close to that goal. He made an understandable mistake and apologized. He has also done tons of charitable work in the L.A. area, has supported the charities of teammates, stands at the end of the dugout and shakes the hand of every military veteran the Dodgers honor at each game (and gives them an autographed ball) and should be judged on his whole career, not just one small part of it.

There are some guys you just can’t picture in another uniform. Turner is one of them (Of course, so was Steve Garvey).

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So with Turner back, let’s take a look at a possible Dodger roster:

C: Will Smith/Austin Barnes
1B: Max Muncy
2B: Chris Taylor/Gavin Lux
3B: Turner
SS: Corey Seager
LF: AJ Pollock/Chris Taylor
CF: Cody Bellinger
RF: Mookie Betts

Bench: Matt Beaty, Zach McKinstry, Edwin Ríos, Barnes or Smith, Pollock or Taylor or Lux.

Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, David Price, Julio Urías.

Bullpen: Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Victor González, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Joe Kelly, Garrett Cleavinger.

That’s a guess on Feb. 18. The actual roster will probably be different around the edges, but this gives us a look at a tremendous roster. Most Vegas bookmakers have the over/under for Dodgers victories this season at 103.5, and they all give the Dodgers best odds for winning the World Series. Of course, they don’t play the games on computer, so anything can happen.

Is the team perfect? Of course not. Who is going to be the closer? Will Muncy hit better than .192? Can McKinstry and Taylor fill the versatility hole left by the departure of Kiké Hernández? Who is going to drive fans to the edge of a nervous breakdown during games instead of Pedro Baez?

But that’s what spring training is for. We will try to figure out the answer to those questions, and many others, over the next six weeks.

Dodgers make some trades

The Dodgers traded a couple of relievers in the last week, sending left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek and outfielder Cody Thomas to the Oakland A’s for third baseman Sheldon Neuse and right-handed pitcher Gus Varland. They also sent right-handed reliever Dylan Floro to the Miami Marlins for left-handed reliever Alex Vesia and minor league right-hander Kyle Hurt.

Kolarek’s value was hurt greatly with the “Three-batter minimum” rule. He can get lefties out (.176/.217/.248 in his career), but struggles against right-handers (.297/.365/.470). Once he could no longer come in and face just one batter, the odds of him facing a right-hander shot way up. He has appeared in 143 games, but pitched only 116.2 innings.

Floro was a good reliever, but the Dodgers have always treated guys like Floro as interchangeable parts. Every season they have guys who pitch well and then are discarded. Floro pitched in 104 games over three seasons, so, replace that part before the wear becomes noticeable and keep trying out any of the dozens of relievers the Dodgers always seem to have on standby till you find one that can pitch as well as Floro. Meanwhile, Floro goes away with a hearty thank you and a World Series ring.

Austin Barnes signs

Barnes, who was eligible for arbitration, signed a two-year, $4.3-million deal with the team. This puts the Dodger payroll at approximately $2 billion (math was never my strong suit). No more complaining about how the Dodgers are afraid to spend money.

Can I go see spring training games?

The Dodgers play their first exhibition game on Feb. 28, and while we won’t be able to watch them play at Dodger Stadium for the foreseeable future, you can watch them play in Glendale, Arizona.

According to the Dodgers, “A socially-distanced capacity of 2,400 seats (18 percent of full capacity) has been established for all games at Camelback Ranch. Tickets will be sold on a single-game basis in pods of two, four and six tickets. All seats will be reserved, including lawn pods, and each pod will be a minimum of six feet from each other.

“Camelback Ranch-Glendale will adhere to local, state and Major League Baseball COVID-19 protocols. In order to promote a safe and a contactless experience for fans and employees, the following protocols will be strictly enforced at CR-G:

“Social distancing will be enforced at all times.

“Appropriate masks will be required unless fans are eating or drinking in their ticketed seats. Neck gaiters, bandanas and masks with valves are not considered appropriate masks.

“Concessions and retail will be cashless and contactless operations.

“Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the ballpark.

“Practice fields will be closed to fans.

“No bags will be permitted except for those that are carried for medical reasons or manufactured diaper bags that accompany infants and young children.”

For more info, or to buy tickets, click here. And if you go and seem me wave hi. I’ll be the guy telling everyone to stay away from me.

Your first Dodgers memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

Kevin Furuta of Pasadena: My first Dodger memory is one that my dad told me because I don’t remember it. But I became a Dodger fan in the early 70s around the age of 5. I kept bugging my pops to take me to a Dodger game, like non stop. And when he finally did ... I fell asleep by the second inning. Cut to a couple years later to another Dodger game, where we sat in the left field bleachers at the very back. I brought my ratty old glove from Little League hoping to catch a home run. I put the glove by my feet and accidentally kicked it and it fell all the way down the the concourse. Instead of getting mad at me, he immediately yelled, “Guard!”, to notify the usher nearby so that no one would just pick up the glove and take it. Not a specific Dodger memory per se but it was the first time I understood that my pops would always look out for me. He still does and we go to about 10 games a year together... and upgraded to loge seats!

Stan Quarles of Arkadelphia, Ark.: I am 73-years-old and my first Dodger memory was the 1955 World Series. I was 8 years old and we had just gotten our first TV set which was black and white. Games were played in the daytime then. So I just got to see the weekend games. Just seeing those great Dodger players beat the Yankees sealed the deal for me. I bleed Dodger blue and it was exciting to see them win the 2020 World Series.

I also would like to add that my all time best baseball announcers were Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese. I can still hear Ole Diz say “he slud into second base” and “rare back and throw that ole country fastball”. Two Hall of Famers that could really tell you what was going on.

And finally

Tommy Lasorda gives his opinion of Dave Kingman’s performance. Featuring some very, very, very not-safe-for-work language. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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