Last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers had unsung heroes in the form of Jerry Hairston Jr., Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker.
Hairston Jr. retired, and Punto and Schumaker signed elsewhere in the off-season. Justin Turner was one of the off-season signees the Dodgers added to the team as part of their effort to replenish the bench.
Signed to a one-year deal, Turner has played an important role for the Dodgers. He’s primarily filled in for Juan Uribe when the starting third baseman has been on the disabled list with hamstring issues and Turner’s also been a valuable pinch-hit option.
After another start at third base in the Dodgers win over the New York Mets, Turner discussed the confidence he’s playing with, via Robert Morales of the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
I think it’s just preparation and a lot of it is confidence, believing in yourself,” Turner, 29, said ahead of his team’s series opener with his former team, the New York Mets. “You go up there and you’re not feeling good or whatever and if you’ve got negative thoughts in your head, it’s going to be tough.
Turner also discussed the experience of playing for a team in a pennant race and his eighth-inning home run against the San Diego Padres:
I haven’t played on a successful team before, so to get a big hit on a team that’s playing for something, is pretty special for me.”
Along with getting key hits, manager Don Mattingly also touched on the value Turner has brought to the team defensively:
So pretty much everything about him has been good for us this year. He’s been able to play multiple positions, gives you good at-bats against righties and lefties. There is really not a whole lot of negative that’s going on with Justin.”
Turner has played in 86 games thus far, which matches his total in 2013 with the Mets. The Long Beach, Calif. native is hitting a career-high .318 and his 29 RBIs are the most since he collected 51 in 2011.
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