Turner lands on his feet at Dodgers camp

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
10:47
AM PT
GLENDALE, Ariz. – For a guy who was unceremoniously dumped and then impugned by his former team, Justin Turner is in a pretty good place.

Not only did he latch on with his hometown team, the Dodgers, but he looks like a lock to make the 25-man roster. In fact, he’s a pretty good bet to wind up in something of a platoon with Dee Gordon at second base to start the season.

[+] EnlargeJustin Turner
AP Photo/Darron CummingsJustin Turner looks to be carving out a role with the Dodgers after being let go by the Mets.
That’s a pretty good rebound after the New York Mets non-tendered him and then let it be known to ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin that it was because they were tired of seeing Turner not run out ground balls. Not surprisingly, Turner isn't willing to let that reputation become widely circulated.

“I like to think I play the game pretty hard,” Turner said. “If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here because I don’t have all the other tools that a lot of the guys in here have. It is what it is. I’m in a good place and I’m happy where I’m at.”

Turner, 29, batted .280 for the Mets last year and gave them coverage at all four infield positions and even played one game in left field. The Dodgers, unsure about Alex Guerrero’s readiness for the major leagues, scooped Turner up on a minor-league deal.

They’ve seen no signs of a lack of hustle so far, manager Don Mattingly said, adding that he likes the way Turner “goes about his business.”

“His hands seem to work really easy and he’s had quality at-bats,” Mattingly said. “It’s really the same thing we’ve seen with the Mets the last couple of years. You see a guy who’s not playing every day, but when he gets the chance to play the at-bats are competitive.”

Turner figures to get the bulk of his playing time at second base and when Mattingly gives third baseman Juan Uribe days off. He’s essentially the replacement for Nick Punto, who got 335 plate appearances last year, far more than Turner got in New York.

In other words, these whirlwind four months could, in the long run, work in Turner’s favor. He grew up in Long Beach and attended Mayfair High in Lakewood.

“I’m excited to be a part of a team and an organization that is committed to winning the way they are,” Turner said. “Obviously, it’s a pretty good ball club, and my family and friends are excited because I get to play close to home. It was a good deal all the way around.”

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239