Duarte: Turner Turned Dodgers Around

Since returning from injury, Justin Turner has sparked the Dodgers into a resurgence

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
June 26, 2018 - 12:17 pm

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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After suffering through what seemed like an endless cycle of injuries during the early portion of the regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally getting healthy.

And they’re quickly becoming one of the hottest teams in the majors.

Since losing a series to Miami on May 15-17, the Dodgers have had a revival of sorts, winning all but one series.

NBC LA Dodgers reporter Michael Duarte has covered the Dodgers every step of the way. Speaking to CBS Sports Radio, Duarte commented on how this injury-riddled group – which has had 15 players on the DL for a combined 91 days – sparked a turnaround.

“The obvious answer is the home runs,” Duarte said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They’ve hit more home runs than any team in baseball over the last 30 days.”

Duarte credited third baseman Justin Turner for the Dodgers’ resurgence. He returned from a fractured left wrist in that May series against Miami and has made his presence felt.

“Turner definitely helped turn it around,” Duarte said. “He does provide that steadiness. When he’s not there and he’s not traveling with the team, they miss his presence and they’ve struggled.”

Turner, 33, is hitting .250 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and six doubles in 32 games.

“He doesn’t look necessarily like his old self,” Duarte said. “But his presence in the lineup, the way he approaches at bat, the ability to get base hits — even though he’s dealing with some discomfort in that wrist – I think that’s where things really started to turn around.”

In addition to Turner’s contributions, left fielder Matt Kemp has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers.

“He’s having an absolute resurgence this season as he’s back on the Dodgers,” Duarte said. “He sheds 40 pounds in the offseason. He came in motivated and focused to actually prove he can compete on this team and not just be a trade bait. He’s embraced his role as a veteran on the team — a guy that can talk to guys, so he’s proven himself.”

The Dodgers (42-35), who are 16-5 in June, trail the Diamondbacks (44-34) by 1.5 games in the NL West (entering play June 26).

“That’s an incredible feat to bounce back that much,” Duarte said.