With Opening Day just over a week away, there’s nothing quite so demoralizing as a serious injury to one of your team’s best hitters.
Unfortunately for the defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans, that’s exactly what happened to last year’s postseason hero, third baseman Justin Turner.
With the Dodgers facing the Oakland Athletics on Monday night, Turner came up to bat in the bottom of the first inning. However, he was struck in the wrist by a pitch from right-hander Kendall Graveman.
With the way Turner reacted, it was immediately clear that the injury was serious.
It was later revealed that Turner, 33, suffered a small non-displaced fracture of his left wrist, according to MLB.com. A timetable for his recovery and eventual return wasn’t immediately clear, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be back before May, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
Turner, who was set to visit the doctor on Tuesday to have his wrist further examined, was disappointed by the injury.
“It didn’t feel good,” he said. “Definitely not what I wanted to hear. It started to feel better getting the X-ray and I was hoping it would come back negative. Then you get the news, it’s tough.
“They haven’t given me a timeline. This close to the season, it’s not ideal. We’ve got a lot of good ballplayers in here and I don’t think anyone is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve still got to go out and play. It’s an opportunity for someone to step up and help win games.”
And with his No. 3 hitter sidelined, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admitted that the injury is a “blow” to the team. Still, he expressed confidence that other players will step up in Turner’s absence.
“I know J.T.’s down, it’s a blow, a guy you count on every day,” Roberts said. “It’s tough, but that’s baseball and we have a lot of good players and guys have to step up.”
In the immediate future, Roberts stated that he could move second baseman Logan Forsythe to third base, then platoon Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez at second.
Sophomore outfielder Cody Bellinger, who hit 39 home runs in 2017 and won the Rookie of the Year Award, is likely to take Turner’s spot in the lineup.
General manager Farhan Zaidi also admitted that the Dodgers aren’t “as good a team without” Turner, but he too is confident that the team can weather the injury without making major trades or signing any big-name free agents.
“You feel for the player and we’re not as good a team without J.T., no doubt about that,” Zaidi said. “The rest of the guys are going to have to do more for us to play at the same level.
“But the next thought, practically, is what it means for the team, and as far as that goes, we have some very capable guys who are going to be given a chance to seize an opportunity. We feel very confident staying in-house with this one and the hope is we’re not missing him too long.”
Despite all that optimism, losing Turner is definitely going to hurt the Dodgers.
Last year, Turner made the first All-Star team of his career and went on to hit .322 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs. He was even better in the first two rounds of the postseason, winning the NLCS MVP after the Dodgers defeated the Cubs.
It remains to be seen how effectively the Dodgers will be able to weather the loss of their star player. Los Angeles opens their season on March 29 against the San Francisco Giants.
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