With the departures of Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost key bench players that are often found on successful teams. Coming into Spring Training, the reserve spots were largely hanging in the balance.
Now that the Dodgers have 30 games left in the season, including beginning a two-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday, player’s roles have become more defined than they once were.
One of the more consistent bench players for the Dodgers this season has been Justin Turner. In 87 games played, the 29 year old has a .313 batting average, which is nearly 70 points higher than his career average of .256 coming into this season.
Due to the abundance of injuries the Dodgers have suffered this season, Turner has played every infield position with the exception of catcher. According to Samantha Zuba of the LA Times, Turner has viewed his time with the Dodgers as an opportunity to contribute:
You’ve got to look at it as an opportunity. It’s a chance for me to get four or five at-bats a night and try to make a difference.”
Although he’s had to play different positions, Turner credited his success to being prepared:
It happens on every team. Guys go down. People have to fill in, and you just prepare yourself as best as you can and go out and try to have fun playing the game.”
Turner has been an integral part of the Dodgers and has made noticeable contributions. With Juan Uribe suffering from more right hamstring issues, Turner has once again been called on to fill the void.
The utility infielder was particularly impressive in the three-game series against the San Diego Padres. Turner went 5-for-10 in the series and hit a key, go-ahead home run that put Clayton Kershaw in line to earn his 15th win of the season.
General manager Ned Colletti described Turner’s ability to play offense and defense as a key to his overall success this season and that his experience in a big market like New York has helped him settle into playing in Los Angeles.
Turner also spoke of playing with confidence this season and has likely put himself into position to sign a lucrative contract in the off-season.
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