Turner expected to start Game 5; Grandal uncertain
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he expects third baseman Justin Turner to start Thursday night's decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series (8 p.m. ET, TBS), but he is uncertain about the status of catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Turner is dealing with soreness in both knees (bone bruise in left knee, tendinitis in right knee) and a bruised left foot after fouling off a pitch Monday night. Grandal has persistent discomfort at the top of his left (non-throwing) shoulder that has bothered him most of the second half of the season.
"I expect J.T. to be able to play," said Mattingly, who removed Turner for defensive purposes in the eighth inning of the Game 4 win in New York. "I don't think there's a huge difference from yesterday in what he's able to do.
"I know Yas is maybe more on the 50/50 line, depending on once he tests his swing. I don't think catching is an issue, just swinging the bat pain free. We haven't talked about replacing him [on the roster] -- I don't think we would, but possibly if he absolutely can't lift his arm. Talking to [VP of medical services] Stan Conte, he feels good, his range of motion is better, he expects there's a good chance to be ready to play tomorrow. That tells me we won't do that, but that could change if he can't do anything at all."
Mattingly said he's comfortable defensively moving rookie Corey Seager from shortstop to third base and bringing Jimmy Rollins off the bench to play shortstop if the Dodgers lead in the late innings. But Turner's bat is crucial to the offense, as he is hitting .467 this series against his former club with a team postseason record four doubles and three RBIs.
As A.J. Ellis has long been the catcher of choice for Clayton Kershaw, Thursday night starter Zack Greinke seems to prefer Grandal, though he complimented both on Wednesday.
"Both have different strengths," said Greinke. "A.J. is probably the best pitch-caller and working with pitchers on what's working and stuff. Yas works really well with me, and his physical skills and baseball skills are as good as anyone in the game in framing, blocking and throwing. Both have strengths."
Grandal snapped an 0-for-26 drought with a two-run single in Game 3, but he was in obviously pain in his final at-bat. Ellis is 2-for-7 in the series, extending his postseason hitting streak to 12 games, a franchise record.
The Dodgers don't want to replace Grandal because it would mean he would also miss the next series. If necessary, Austin Barnes has been working out with the club and would be the pick.