Star Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has been diagnosed with a broken left wrist after being hit by a pitch in tonight’s spring game, manager Dave Roberts said after the contest. (H/t Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, via Twitter). The unfortunate news strikes a blow to the defending National League champs less than two weeks before the start of the 2018 season.
Turner says it’s a “small, non-displaced fracture,” as Pedro Moura of The Athletic tweets, though we’ll need to await further information before it’s clear how long he’ll be out. Precise details of the injury, as well as its course of treatment and how the veteran proceeds through rehab, will obviously dictate the timeline. It seems clear, based upon generally similar past injuries, that Turner won’t be available for Opening Day and will be out for at least six weeks or so.
The 33-year-old Turner has been among the game’s more productive players in recent seasons. While he has dealt with some injuries, only once appearing in over 130 games since breaking out in Los Angeles, Turner has racked up 18.8 rWAR and 18.2 fWAR over the past four campaigns. He was never better at the plate than in 2017, when he posted an outstanding .322/.415/.530 slash with 21 home runs and more walks (59) than strikeouts (56) over 543 plate appearances.
Replacing that production isn’t reasonably possible, though the Dodgers are about as well-equipped as any team to do so. The club can bump Logan Forsythe to the hot corner while utilizing any number of players at second base. Veteran Chase Utley will no doubt see plenty off time against right-handers, as had already been expected, while versatile right-handed hitters Austin Barnes and Enrique Hernandez will surely also factor into the infield mix.
The injury to Turner will open an opportunity for another player to join the roster to open the season. It’s possible the club could carry an infielder such as Jake Peter or Donovan Solano, neither of whom is on the 40-man, though perhaps the likelier scenario is to keep another outfielder while utilizing Hernandez more on the dirt. Los Angeles is facing tough decisions on players such as Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and the out-of-options Trayce Thompson, so the injury to Turner could allow the club to keep one more of those names. Alternatively, the Dodgers could break camp with Kyle Farmer as a reserve catcher while giving Barnes more time at second base. Needless to say, there are plenty of possibilities.