Justin Turner ‘very happy’ with Red Sox, but has no idea why he isn’t a Dodger


Boston Red Sox Justin Turner during the third inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Boston.  (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Boston‘s Justin Turner During the third inning of the game against the Cardinals on May 13. (Michael Dwyer/The Associated Press)

Justin Turner He has an appointment with the dentist on Tuesday morning Los Angeles.

He scheduled it as soon as he saw that the Boston Red Sox would be in Anaheim to play the Angels. At first, he would drive from the team hotel. Then he realized that the drive would probably take 90 minutes. Very long. So on Monday night he plans to sleep over at his Los Angeles home — the house he and his wife, Kourtney, have kept even after his time with the Dodgers It’s over because Los Angeles is home.

For nine years, scheduling a good dentist day during baseball season was easy. Everything was easier than playing for his hometown team. He and Kourtney also have a home in Arizona So spring training was a breeze. Turner would throw his baseball bag in his car and drive from Los Angeles every February. They will stay in Los Angeles once the season is over and most of the others have dispersed. There has never been a need to pack longer than a flight.

“The Los Angeles setting was dreamy,” said Turner.

Turner, 38, had hoped the dream would continue in 2023. But it ended abruptly in mid-December when he was on Chris Taylorwedding. That was the day Dodgers The designated hitter signed JD Martinez. Turner is instantly punctured by reality.

“It’s like, ‘Damn it, it’s over,’” Turner said. “That nine-year run has been over.”

A day later, Turner and the Red Sox He agreed to a one-year contract with a player option for 2024 and $21.7 million guaranteed. That means finding housing in Florida for spring training and in Boston for the regular season. This means that his wife drives dogs from Los Angeles to Florida and from Florida to Boston. This means a barrage of change.

Nowadays, Turner’s locker is located at an entrance on one side with an empty locker on the other in Fenway Park. It’s a hint of his standing in the room, as he’s already seen as the leader of a team that has exceeded outside expectations in a loaded American League East six weeks into the season.

However, the visual—Turner in a Red Sox uniform, his signature pine stain above the number 2 on his back—is still disturbing.

“I still look at him sometimes during matches and he’s like, ‘Damn, that’s still kind of weird,'” he said. Kiki Hernandez He said. “Two months into the season, two months into spring training, it’s still weird. But as weird as it is, I’m glad I got to be his teammate again.”

The Dodgers have lost popular baserunners to free agency in recent years. hernandez, Jock PedersenAnd Corey Seeger And Kenley Jansen They are all gone since winning the 2020 World Series. But Turner’s loss was the most telling.

Turner arrived at Camelback Ranch for spring training on a minor league contract in 2014 without knowing where he was headed—he had reported to the minor league team for a few days before moving to the major league club—just looking for a spot on the team. Over the next nine years, he became a cornerstone of the franchise and a year-round presence in Los Angeles.

In the field, he batted . 296 with a 0.865 percentage point on slugging plus made Two All-Star appearancesand delivered October clutch hits. Aside from that, the work of the Justin Turner Foundation was so impactful that the Los Angeles City Council voted to recognize Justin Turner Day on January 22nd. Fittingly, his final public appearance as a Dodger was to accept the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable contributions to the NFL. Philadelphia during the World Championships.

Two months later, he was a member of the Red Sox.

“I never envisioned myself wearing another costume,” Turner said. And when my choice was turned down, I made it clear to several people. …There [were] Many people I’ve said, “Hey, I want to come back. I want to get this done as quickly as possible. Let’s not beat around the bush. Let’s not drag this thing out. This is where I want to be.”

“So, from my point of view, I wasn’t playing any games or trying to profit from anything. I made it clear what I wanted. So I don’t know what happened, but it happened.”

Turner eventually started in Boston with a call.

Hernandez was walking his dogs one day during the holiday season when he reached out to Turner. He first wanted to check out his friend and ex Dodgers colleague. Turner was still a free agent and his future was unexpectedly cloudy. He also called with a question.

“I was like, ‘Look, call for a catch-up, but… I’m going straight to that: Are you willing to leave L.A.?'” Hernandez recalled this week. “And he said yes right away. And we talked at length now and then. Basically, our whole walk is with the dogs, which is 30, 45 minutes.”

Once Hernandez closed, he called his bosses: Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Red Sox major league baseball hitter Chaim Blum. The talks launched an aggressive recruitment drive.

Boston Cake & #xe9;  Hernandez, right, celebrates with Justin Turner after scoring with Triston Casas on a single.
Boston’s Kiki Hernandez, right, celebrates with Justin Turner after scoring a goal Triston Casas on one run before Rhys McGuire to tie the score during the tenth inning of a game against the Twins on April 18. (Michael Dwyer/The Associated Press)

Jansen joined the effort once he signed with the Red Sox in early December. Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek Turner called. Bill Belichick texted him (Turner did mention he’s a huge Miami Dolphins fan). The mission proved successful. But Boston’s bid only worked because the Dodgers weren’t willing to meet Turner’s market value.

In an interview on AM 570 in November, Turner said he spoke to him Andrew FriedmanPresident of Baseball Operations, and Director Dave Roberts “many times.” The message, Turner said, was figuring out how to proceed with competitive credit tax in mind.

“Once those chips are down, we’ll see where I stand,” Turner told the radio station.

In the end, the Dodgers, after turning down Turner’s $16 million option, tried to negotiate a lower salary. They wanted Turner back on a deal similar to the one they ended up giving Martinez – One year for $10 million. Turner sought a multi-year contract.

The stalemate was similar to the one between the two sides two seasons ago when that didn’t happen Agree to a two-year deal Until four days before pitchers and catchers reported spring training in 2021. But this time, the Dodgers pushed to sign Martinez.

“I have no idea,” Turner said when asked why the Dodger wasn’t in his 15th major league season. “No idea. That’s not a question I have to answer because other than being super happy with where I’m at and loving all these guys and being a part of it, like, the honest truth is I’ve never seen myself playing for another organization for the rest of my business. And that’s just the truth.” “.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox did not offer Martinez a contract. Bloom said they were in the market for a specific hitter who could field the outfield and play rookie Treston Casas at first base. Turner fit the job description. Martinez did not.

“That’s really what happened to us,” Bloom said. “The guy who’s going to get the lion’s share of the DH at-bats is best suited to be the guy who can do those other things.”

The beginning of Turner’s career with the Red Sox took a scary turn in March when he was hit in the face by a fastball during a spring training game. Turner, who left the field spurting blood, needed 16 stitches. He returned two weeks later.

“It’s still somewhat lumpy, but from the outside you can’t really tell,” said Turner, who has a scar under his red beard and a buildup of tissue inside his mouth. “Everything is good.”

Justin Turner reacts after being punched in the face by Tigers pitcher Matt Manning during spring training on March 6.
Boston’s Justin Turner reacts after being hit in the face on the field tigers jar Matt Manning During a spring training game on March 6. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

The uniform may be different, but so far Turner’s production has followed a similar trajectory to his Dodgers days.

A notoriously slow starter, Turner batted . 259 with two home runs and a . 723 OPS in April. So far in May, he’s hit . 321 with three home runs and . 935 OPS in 14 games. On Wednesday, he went two for five with a home run over the Green Monster as the Red Sox snapped a four-game losing streak against Seattle Mariners. On Thursday, he added three more hits and his fifth home run in another win.

This week, Red Sox hitting coach Peter Fatsi credited Turner with setting an example to work out grinding at bats and hunt down rookie pitchers early. Impact helped create an offense that ranks third across the majors in runs scored.

On Thursday, the club traveled to San Diego To start a journey of three cities and nine games. For the Red Sox, it will be an important test. For Turner, it will be his first time on the West Coast since he left Los Angeles for spring training. His dentist is waiting.

This story originally appeared Los Angeles Times.


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