Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to first base in the seventh inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 24, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-3. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Justin Turner might not relish title of role player, but he’s filled it quite nicely as of late for the Dodgers.
The 29-year-old has played second base and shortstop, but it’s his latest work at third base that’s given L.A. the biggest boost when they’ve needed it.
Turner has come through with the bat and displayed steady defense with the glove at the hot corner since starter Juan Uribe went on the disabled list May 21 with a bum right hamstring.
In 10 starts at third since Uribe went down, the man who calls himself “redturn2” on Twitter has a hit in all but two of those starts and is batting .333 (12 for 36), with three home runs and nine RBIs.
"I feel good. I feel comfortable," Turner told Michael Lananna of MLB.com. "It's always nice to have a consistent number of ABs every day. It's a little bit different mindset going in when you know you're going to get four or five at-bats, as opposed to you might only get one."
Coming out of Spring Training Turner and Dee Gordon were left to play it out on the field to see who would take the starting second base job, and we know how that went. In April, Gordon took off and hit .356 with a league leading 13 steals. Turner’s .182 batting average landed him on the bench.
On the flip side, he’s given the Dodgers what Jamal Crawford gives the L.A. Clippers: a streaky pro who can give them instant offense off the bench.
“He’s been good, he’s gotten some big hits for us,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s been solid at third. I think we have to be a little careful with him as far as playing too many days in a row, so we’ll be a little careful with that.”
Mattingly said he learned his lesson last year by overplaying Nick Punto and is mindful not to do the same with Turner and burn him out.
The Long Beach native didn’t start Monday against the White Sox but came into pinch-hit in the eighth inning and drew a walk.
When Uribe returns Turner’s time on the field will likely dwindle but he and his long, red hair will continue to flow with confidence awaiting the next time his number 10 is called.