Friday, August 22, 2014
Collins full of praise for Dodgers' Turner
By Anthony Witrado | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
LOS ANGELES -- Terry Collins leaned back in a chair behind a desk in a cramped manager’s office underneath Dodger Stadium, hands folded.
And then someone brought up Justin Turner.
Collins propped up in the chair and started talking with his hands.
“He can hit,” Collins said with some enthusiasm. “Always could hit. He’s not the flashiest of the flashy, but he can walk up in any situation and hit.”
Turner was non-tendered by the Mets in December and the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league deal just before spring training. One cellar-dweller’s trash is a contender’s treasure in Turner’s case.
A season after hitting .280 with two home runs in 214 plate appearances and likely due a decent raise through arbitration, Turner is hitting .314 with four home runs in 249 plate appearances and smacked a game-winning home run against the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
Turner spent three seasons with the Mets and was always a favorite of Collins, who made it a point to seek out Turner before the game Friday.
“He was always ready for whatever we needed him for,” Collins said. “Play left field one day, third base, second base, whatever. It’s been a good situation with him over there [with the Dodgers].”
Injury updates: Appointed closer Jenrry Mejia is available tonight after missing Wednesday’s game in Oakland because of some back tightness. Mejia said it crept up on him Tuesday, but after a couple days off Collins declared him good to go.
This is the time of year when “wear and tear starts to show,” Collins said. Mejia’s workload has increased and become more stressful this season since he was named the closer in May. He has also pitched through or been sidelined by numerous ailments this year, including a hernia that will require offseason surgery.
Mejia has spent parts of four seasons in the majors and has battled injuries throughout his career, including in the minors. Collins said the training staff is monitoring Mejia closely because they want him to know what it feels like to pitch through September and not have to be shutdown at the end of the season.
• Dana Eveland’s left elbow is feeling better after a cortisone shot. He is available to pitch against the Dodgers. Eveland described his ailment as “tennis elbow” in Oakland and took a shot Wednesday and played catch Thursday and reported no pain.
• Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis missed the last two games because of a stiff neck, but Collins said he is available off the bench Friday.
When asked how his neck was feeling in the clubhouse before the game, Nieuwenhuis replied, “It’s a little better.”
Undecided on Dice-K: The Mets still haven’t made a decision on what to do with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw five scoreless innings in his third rehab start Thursday.
He could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday. But Collins said there hasn’t been a decision on where Dice-K will pitch next. If the team decides to give him another rehab start it would push his return back to September when rosters expand and no corresponding roster move is needed.