Justin Turner was instrumental in the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the 2020 World Series, but a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test during Game 6 prevented him from being on the field for the final out and ensuing celebration at Globe Life Field.
That potentially was going to be the last moment of his career with the Dodgers, but Turner re-signed on a two-year contract that included a team option for 2024. The deal was finalized early into Spring Training and upon reporting to Camelback Ranch said there was added motivation to be with the Dodgers on the field for a World Series celebration.
“Obviously, getting taken out of the game, trying to figure out what was happening, winning the World Series, being thrilled seeing Julio get that last out, you finally accomplished your goal,” he said.
“But then for me, sitting back in that room and watching the guys dogpile, personally it felt like it was the third time I had to sit and watch a team celebrate winning a World Series.”
Along with added inspiration, Turner went into his age-36 season having slimmed down by converting to a Whole30 diet and lifestyle. “I always have kind of plateaued at 201, 202 (pounds) and never really been able to get there,” Turner explained last March.
“So when my wife wanted to do this Whole30 diet, I jumped on board and started seeing results right away. I think I got down as low as 192 at one point. Working my way back up to getting right around 200 pounds, but just doing it the right way. Eating good and eating clean.”
Turner then got off to a hot start and slugged six home runs during April, which set a career high for the first month of a regular season. He entered 2021 having hit three career homers in March/April; one each during the 2015, 2017 and 2019 seasons.
Turner endured some struggles in May but heated up again in the ensuing summer months. He finished the year batting .278/.361/.471 with 22 doubles, 27 home runs and 87 RBI over 151 games.
In addition to setting a career high and leading the Dodgers in games played, Turner’s 27 homers tied the most he’s ever hit (previously reached in 2016 and 2019). But like several other players in the lineup, Turner went into a slump in the postseason.
He did hit a key home run in the National League Wild Card Game, but overall in the playoffs was an uncharacteristic 4-for-34. Turner’s postseason came to an end days games before it did for the Dodgers as he suffered a Grade 2 left hamstring strain in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
Just over one month removed from the injury, Turner had already made progress in the recovery. “Everything is good. I’ve been up here (Dodger Stadium) three days a week, going through therapy and rehab, working out,” he said from the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Thanksgiving turkey giveaway event.
“I guess the good thing is it started my offseason program a lot sooner than I probably would have, so I’m feeling good. Moving around good, body is feeling good. Already starting to feel strong again and ready to get things going for next year.
“I haven’t really gone out and ran yet because they’re kind of taking it slow since there’s no need to rush, but there’s no doubt in my mind I would already be running now if I had to.”
Turner’s 2021 highlight
Turner accomplished a few milestones throughout the year, beginning with a first career grand slam. Six weeks later he was asked to pitch for the Dodgers in a lopsided loss, tossing a scoreless ninth inning.
Then in the final days of the regular season, Turner reached 150 career home runs.
With at least one more year on his contract with the Dodgers, Turner again will be the club’s everyday third baseman but presumably would be a candidate to serve as the designated hitter if it is implemented in the NL as part of a new collective bargaining agreement.
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