LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers used their third No. 3 hitter in as many games on Saturday night, illustrating how hard it is to replace Justin Turner.It was Yasiel Puig, followed by Matt Kemp, then Yasmani Grandal. Meanwhile, Turner continues a steady recovery from a small non-displaced fracture in his
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers used their third No. 3 hitter in as many games on Saturday night, illustrating how hard it is to replace Justin Turner.
It was Yasiel Puig, followed by Matt Kemp, then Yasmani Grandal. Meanwhile, Turner continues a steady recovery from a small non-displaced fracture in his left wrist. Monday will be four weeks since he was hit by a Kendall Graveman fastball. He has begun to catch soft toss with a glove and taken dry swings with a bat.
Manager Dave Roberts won't give a timetable for Turner's return because it all depends on an unpredictable recovery. And even when Turner can swing a bat, he'll need more than the traditional one- or two-game rehab assignment. He'll need a quasi-Spring Training.
So, Roberts concedes it hasn't been easy constructing lineups each game when one of the best hitters in the league is unavailable indefinitely.
"It's a challenge," Roberts said. "It's hard to replace Justin, the presence in the lineup, the at-bat quality, whether it's a two-out nobody-on situation or run-scoring opportunity. The professional at-bat, to have him in the middle, it's tough to overcome that. You look at the three-hole, it hasn't been productive. But we're still early."
Dodgers No. 3 hitters rank last in MLB with a .527 OPS. That includes a .226 average, no home runs and four RBIs. By contrast, Turner last year finished third in National League batting average, was an All-Star for the first time and finished eighth in NL MVP voting.
Kemp didn't start on Saturday, but he and Roberts said it had nothing to do with running into the fence chasing Nick Ahmed's home run Friday night. Joc Pederson started in left field, and Roberts said he wanted to keep Pederson "relevant" and protect Kemp's legs for the long haul of the season.
More immediately, Roberts might have felt Arizona's Saturday night starter, Taijuan Walker, was a softer spot for Pederson than Sunday starter Zack Godley. Kemp is 3-for-12 with a homer against Godley, Pederson is 1-for-8 against Godley but 5-for-12 against Walker.
In other news related to left field, Roberts said torrid Alvin Toles was placed on the Minor League disabled list with a hamstring injury from Friday night. Roberts called it a "very benign deal" but estimated Toles to be sidelined at least 10 days.
"I hear social media is blowing up," Roberts said. "#FreeToles. Who started that?"
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.