With Opening Day ten days away from Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers suffered a crushing blow. In the first inning of an exhibition game against the Oakland A’s, a fastball thrown by right-hander Kendall Graveman struck and broke Justin Turner’s wrist.
Timetable for the Dodger third baseman and most consistent hitter since he joined the team in 2015 to return hasn’t been announced.
But wrist injuries for a hitter can ruin a career. Wrists generate the bat speed and power for every hitter. Turner, coming off his first All-Star selection and NLCS co-MVP with Chris Taylor, was expected to be a mainstay in the Dodger lineup. He has been the best clutch hitter for the Dodgers for the past two seasons, finishing both seasons in the top ten in the NL MVP balloting.
If Turner didn’t play in the same league as Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, he would have at least one Gold Glove by now.
How will the Dodgers survive without Turner as they compete for their sixth consecutive National League Western Division title?
Either Logan Forsythe or Chase Utley can play a decent defensive third base. Although Kiké Hernandez, who has had an excellent offensive spring training, is an adequate defensive third baseman, playing there waste his fantastic speed and versatility.
Offensively, the Dodgers will have a difficult time replacing Turner. Already, the Dodgers have questions about their lineup.
Taylor, who had 21 homers in 2017, didn’t display that kind of power anywhere in the Seattle Mariner organization. He spent the 2016-2017 offseason revamping his swing to change the launch angle. The new launch angle helped him to blast those homers, but can he maintain his newfound power? People within the Dodger organization believe he can even though Taylor has had a rough spring training offensively since many of his hard-hit balls have been fielded.
The unanimous NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger might have a sophomore slump, but the Dodgers don’t think so. Coming to Los Angeles in mid-April out of necessity because first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had an array of injuries, Bellinger avoided a prolonged slump while setting the NL rookie record for home runs with 39.
During the World Series, the Houston Astros exploited Bellinger, the youngest player to participate in a World Series ever. He chased sliders out of the strike zone. Of course, other MLB teams noticed that and will try to duplicate that during the upcoming season. Bellinger spent the offseason adding 15 pounds of muscle to get stronger and have more endurance for the 162-game schedule. This spring he has hit 3 home runs, but his batting average has been awful. Bellinger already has the reputation of being a streaky hitter. The Dodgers hope he won’t have any prolonged slumps in 2018.
The 2017 season was a breakout season for Yasiel Puig. Under the tutelage of hitting coach Turner Ward, Puig demonstrated more patience at the plate than ever in his Major-League career started in 2013. He maintained focus throughout the season, having better offensive statistics than any other year since his rookie campaign. Entering his first arbitration-eligible season, Puig is determined to improve on his magnificent 2017 performance.
Turner’s injury will give the Dodgers an extra roster spot for Opening Day. Since Matt Kemp, returning to LA when the Dodgers dumped the salaries of Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir on the Atlanta Braves in December, has had a wonderful spring, he has made the team as probably the starting left fielder. This has complicated the roster for the Dodgers.
Returning from a torn ACL, Andrew Toles has proven he’s healthy and able to play, and the Dodgers can use his speed. Trayce Thompson, who played a vital role in 2016 before suffering a back injury, has had a great spring but is out of options. Kyle Farmer, a backup catcher who can also play third base, has shown his offensive production in 2017 was no fluke. Jake Peter, a utility infielder who joined the Dodgers in an offseason three-team trade with the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox that also brought left-handed reliever Scott Alexander, has taken Camelback Ranch by storm with his power.
Justin Turner’s injury could be detrimental for the Dodgers, but it could also open the door for a young player who is waiting for an opportunity to perform in the Major Leagues.