While the Los Angeles Dodgers went 92-70 last season en route to a third consecutive National League West division title, it did not come easy as they dealt with more injuries than any other team in the league.
In the second half of the season a handful of players, third baseman Justin Turner and catcher Yasmani Grandal in particular, played through injuries that eventually required surgery during the offseason.
Turner underwent microscopic surgery on his left knee, and Grandal had surgery to repair the AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder.
Grandal, who saw his production drop off in the second half due to the injury, remains ahead of schedule in his recovery. “The shoulder is great. We’re ahead of schedule. We’ve been swinging, throwing, catching, and working out,” he said at the Dodgers fourth annual FanFest event.
“It just feels good to be able to swing and not have to ice it. There is no rehab to do right now. It’s just strengthening. I’ve been in Arizona the whole time, working hard and getting ready. What I keep saying is that it’s not Feb. 19, but April 4 is that we need to be ready by.”
The April date Grandal placed an emphasis on is when the Dodgers open the 2016 season against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. The 27 year old made his first career All-star team after hitting .282/.401/.526 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs in the first half.
However, the balky shoulder limited Grandal to .162/.280/.218 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in the second half. He’s changing the style of catcher’s gear he’ll wear, which should provide more protection.
“I didn’t plan it, but I just signed with Nike and Nike has double padding, where you have padding on your throwing arm and on your non-throwing arm,” he said. “That’s always a good idea.”
Turner is also progressing well in his recovery, and will use Spring Training to improve his conditioning. “My goal is not only be ready for Opening Day, I want to make sure I’m in baseball shape for Opening Day,” he said from his golf charity event in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday.
Although microfracture surgery is generally considered a serious operation, Turner previously clarified the area where he needed the operation afforded him some luck as it was a non-weight bearing region in his knee.
“[Medical staff] said, ‘Even though it looks scary and sounds scary, it’s actually best-case scenario,'” Turner said. Playing in career-high 126 games last season, he hit .294/.370/.491 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs.
Turner ran last week for the first time since the operation and is expected to do so again on Tuesday. He’ll then head out to the club’s Camelback Ranch Spring Training facility on Wednesday to continue with his rehab and physical therapy.
Having answered plenty of questions about his knee and durability last season, Turner is hopeful the operation will lay concern to rest. “I’m hoping it’s fixed. I’m hoping when I get to 100 percent strength it’s something that’s in the rear-view mirror and I won’t have to worry about it,” he said.
“As long as everything was effective, which signs point to it was, I’m hoping it will feel like I have a brand-new knee once I get to 100 percent.”