LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers acquired Trea Turner from the Nationals on July 30, and they got their first look at their newest All-Star on Friday against the Angels.
Turner, who tested positive for COVID-19 on July 27, was cleared to return to the field and was activated by the Dodgers just minutes before first pitch of the series opener. He popped out in a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 4-3 loss, and the plan is for him to be in the starting lineup on Saturday.
In order to make room on the active roster, the Dodgers placed left-hander Victor González on the 10-day injured list with right knee inflammation.
Manager Dave Roberts and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman met with Turner on Friday, and Turner expressed his desire to remain an infielder and not play as much center field, which he did briefly at the beginning of his career. With Corey Seager handling the bulk of the shortstop duties, Turner will mostly play second base for the Dodgers.
“We view him as a premier shortstop, a superstar player in the game,” Roberts said. “But we value Corey at shortstop, and Trea’s potential versatility with his athleticism allows for some different things. This is something different for him as far as the trade, so getting him comfortable is very important for him and the Dodgers.”
Turner, 28, is batting .321 with 18 homers and 21 stolen bases this season heading into Friday. He gives the Dodgers yet another weapon in the lineup and presents a lot of problems on the basepaths for opposing pitchers, something the Dodgers have lacked for quite some time.
Slotting Turner into the batting order certainly won’t be an issue for Roberts, but with him serving as the everyday second baseman, that creates some interesting decisions with the rest of the roster. With 53 games left, one of the Dodgers’ regulars will be left out. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.
With Taylor swinging a hot bat and needing consistent plate appearances, that leaves the Dodgers with a decision to make on Cody Bellinger, who has mostly handled the team’s responsibilities in center field.
Bellinger has struggled mightily at the plate this season, coming into Friday’s game with a .168 batting average and an OPS of .557. With so much talent to work with, his value as an elite defender might not outweigh the fact that he has not shown signs of breaking out of his season-long slump.
The 2019 National League MVP wasn’t in the lineup for the second time this week on Friday and his playing time could be limited to just when the Dodgers are facing right-handed pitchers.
“Every single night, there’s gonna be a great player that’s not getting the start and that’s just kind of where we’re at,” Roberts said. “Right now, where we’re at in the schedule, we have to win baseball games. We’re four games back in the loss column [entering Friday] and we have to win. I need to put the best guys out there that I feel can win a ballgame that night.”
Adding Turner to the active roster certainly gives the Dodgers a boost.