After nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers that included becoming a two-time All-Star, leader in the clubhouse, World Series champion and pillar in the community, Justin Turner was back in Southern California this week.
With the Boston Red Sox playing the Los Angeles Angels, Turner found himself in a relatively familiar environment but not quite home.
“Yeah, a little weird,” Turner told DodgerBlue.com. “But it’s always good to be back in Southern California. I’ll have quite a few people out these three games, so that’s nice.”
Turner had a clear preference — if not intention — to re-sign with the Dodgers after they declined his team option for the 2023 season, but the sentiment was seemingly not shared by the front office.
With former Dodgers teammate Kiké Hernández among those leading a recruiting effort, Turner wound up signing a two-year contract with the Red Sox. In addition to Hernández, he’s reunited with Kenley Jansen, Alex Verdugo and Chris Martin as well.
“It definitely helped with all the old Dodgers in there, coming in and knowing people,” Turner acknowledged.
“But there’s also a bunch of guys in the clubhouse that I’ve played against for a long time: Trevor Story, Adam Duvall, Raimel Tapia, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Nick Pivetta. I’ve known a lot of those guys, but it is always a little different when you’re putting on the same uniform.
“So just kind of getting to know them on a different level, and it’s been really good.”
Part of being with a new team has required Turner to again establish himself as a clubhouse leader. Although he was long established as such with the Dodgers, Turner knew it’s a role that needs to be earned with the Red Sox.
“It’s a lot of conversations, getting to know guys and earning that trust and respect,” he said. “It’s been going really good. I think we’e got a good group of guys that are curious, hungry and want to get better every day.
“It makes for those conversations that come pretty easily when you’ve got guys that have open minds.”
From Jansen’s perspective, Turner has seamlessly handled the still-surprising development of not being re-signed by the Dodgers.
“J.T. is going to be J.T. Wherever he goes, his first thing is going to be worrying about helping put a clubhouse together and having a great team,” Jansen said.
“He’s stepped up in that role with Kiké and all those guys. He’s been terrific, man. I think he’s good, man. I think he’s good. But of course, if you’ve been with one team for so long, you’re going to feel it from time to time. But we’re in a great place also.
“You can’t beat wearing this uniform and being around those fans. It’s very cool. You can’t be mad playing in Fenway. It’s a very historic ballpark. I’m grateful and I think he’s excited.”
Justin Turner Foundation in Los Angeles
During a Justin Turner Day celebration on January 22 at the Los Angeles Dream Center, he and his wife Kourtney Turner made it clear they would continue to support the community through their foundation despite their lives taking on a new chapter in Boston.
Turner reiterated that commitment and also is working toward establishing the Justin Turner Foundation with the Red Sox as well.
“I think we’ve built something that’s pretty special and meaningful to the city of L.A. It’s something we take a lot of pride in,” he said. “It’s not an afterthought for us. It’s part of our lives.
“So just because I’m on a different and putting on a different uniform, for us to just completely drop it and move on, made absolutely zero sense. Still doing a lot of things, but also trying to get engrained in the community in Boston and working with their foundation and leadership, figuring out ways to impact that community as well.”
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