Wednesday, October 21, 2020

‘The glue’ of the Dodgers, Justin Turner yearns to win a World Sequence title

As a lot as he hates to suppose or discuss it, Justin Turner’s baseball mortality is staring him proper within the ginger-beard-covered face.

The Dodgers third baseman beloved by followers turns 36 in November, and the four-year, $64-million contract he signed earlier than 2017 expires in just a few weeks.

Turner will open his seventh consecutive postseason with the Dodgers Wednesday night time towards the Milwaukee Brewers with a doubtlessly balky hamstring, a warming bat and no assure he’ll return to Los Angeles in 2021. This could possibly be his ultimate October to assist the Dodgers end their 31-year championship drought.

“I believe it’s the identical urgency as each season,” Turner stated earlier than Tuesday’s exercise in Dodger Stadium. “After we present as much as Arizona in spring coaching, the aim is to win a World Sequence, and nothing has modified this season. We have now a whole lot of guys with a whole lot of expertise who’re all simply as hungry, simply as keen as I’m.

“I discovered rather a lot from [the late renowned sports psychologist] Ken Ravizza about being current, and one of many issues that sort of destroys that focus is waiting for the longer term. So I strive not to try this. I attempt to fear about as we speak, and when tomorrow comes, we’ll fear about tomorrow.”

Turner, who grew up in Lengthy Seashore and performed at Cal State Fullerton, was a struggling utility participant for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets for 5 seasons (2009-2013) earlier than signing a minor league take care of the Dodgers.

He blossomed right into a star in Los Angeles, his flowing purple hair and bushy beard, constant manufacturing on the plate and charitable work locally making him a fan favourite.

Turner has hit .302 with an .886 on-base-plus-slugging share, 116 homers and 406 RBIs in seven seasons for the Dodgers, who’ve received eight Nationwide League West titles in a row.

He’s been even higher within the postseason, batting .310 with a .931 OPS, 9 homers and 35 RBIs in 54 playoff video games, together with a seven-game World Sequence loss to Houston in 2017 and a five-game World Sequence loss to Boston in 2018.

Turner stated enjoying in journey ball tournaments, the Mickey Mantle World Sequence, the Connie Mack World Sequence and the Faculty World Sequence helped hone his capacity to thrive underneath stress.

Dodgers’ Justin Turner hits a single towards the San Diego Padres on Sept.15 in San Diego.

(Okay.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

However he credited Ravizza, the previous Cal State Fullerton professor who labored with a number of huge league groups earlier than dying at age 70 in 2018, for laying a lot of the groundwork for his playoff success.

“I labored with him for a few years and took a few his lessons, and he talked in regards to the psychological aspect of baseball and life,” Turner stated. “He was large for my profession in being current, in having the ability to let go of the unhealthy stuff and transfer on to the subsequent pitch.”

Two of Turner’s largest October moments got here in 2017, when he hit a walk-off three-run homer in Recreation 2 of the NL Championship Sequence towards the Chicago Cubs, and 2018, when he hit a go-ahead two-run homer within the eighth inning of a 4-2 win over the Brewers in Recreation 2 of the NLCS.

“He’s the glue for our membership,” Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts stated after the 2018 homer towards Milwaukee. “Should you’re speaking in regards to the grind, the powerful conversations, the identification of our ballclub, he’s in all probability the face. He personifies all the things that I imagine in as a baseball participant.”

The face-of-the-franchise transition from Turner to proper fielder Mookie Betts, who signed a 12-year, $365-million contract extension in July, is underway, however Turner remains to be a middle-of-the-order drive regardless of a slight energy outage in 2020, when he hit .307 with an .860 OPS, 4 homers and 23 RBIs in 42 video games.

Turner missed the primary two weeks of September due to a left hamstring pressure, an damage he suffered towards Texas on Aug. 28 and was situated in the identical space he was hit by a Kyle Freeland pitch towards Colorado on Aug. 22. Turner returned Sept. 15 and made 5 begins at designated hitter and the subsequent 5 at third base.

“I in all probability recovered sooner from the tweak than the bruising behind the hamstring,” Turner stated. “It was one of many higher bruises I’ve had, and I’ve had a whole lot of them. [The swelling] went from the again of the hamstring to the knee after which the calf.”

Turner’s bat appears superb. He hit .394 with a 1.096 OPS in his final 10 video games and hit two homers towards the Angels on Friday night time. He stated the hamstring “feels nice,” and he’ll in all probability bat third, behind Betts and Corey Seager, towards Milwaukee.

“I used to be making an attempt to not push it to the purpose the place I’d reinjure it,” Turner stated. “I needed to take steps ahead every single day, and I really feel like I’m in place proper now.”

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