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Turner sits with back stiffness: 'Not ideal'

@kengurnick
September 26, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Justin Turner’s latest injury is back stiffness that kept him out of the Dodgers' lineup for Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the Padres. “Not ideal,” was the way manager Dave Roberts described the timing of injuries to Turner, who just returned from a sprained left ankle, and

SAN DIEGO -- Justin Turner’s latest injury is back stiffness that kept him out of the Dodgers' lineup for Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the Padres.

“Not ideal,” was the way manager Dave Roberts described the timing of injuries to Turner, who just returned from a sprained left ankle, and Corey Seager, who left Wednesday night’s 6-4 win with a strained left hamstring and was also on the bench on Thursday.

“But in talking to Justin and the training staff, it’s something that shouldn’t be of concern," said Roberts. "He’ll be fine once we get him back in there.”

With one week before the opening of the National League Division Series, the left side of the Dodgers' infield is down, though Roberts said if the playoffs started today, both would play.

“Yesterday during early batting practice, his back tightened up,” Roberts said of Turner. “Just want to make sure he’s fine. Sort of came out of nowhere. We’re managing it. When he’ll be back in there, I’m not sure whether it will be tomorrow or the next day. Probably not available today. The training staff and Justin feel confident he’ll be fine.”

Roberts downplayed the significance of the coaching staff working with rookie Edwin Ríos at third base on Thursday morning, even though no batting practice was held. Ríos smashed a 473-foot tiebreaking home run on Wednesday night.

Roberts said the plan remains to start Seager on Friday night in San Francisco. Seager was removed for precautionary reasons, having missed a month earlier this year with a strain of the same hamstring.

Jedd Gyorko started at third base for Turner on Thursday and Enrique Hernández started at shortstop.

• The status of reliever Joe Kelly remains unknown. He hasn’t pitched since Sept. 14 with an injury the club hasn't specified. Kelly pitched on flat ground Thursday for the second consecutive day, an optimistic sign, with the hope that he will appear in a game on Saturday or Sunday.

• Roberts said he was pleased to see Cody Bellinger, who has cooled considerably in the second half, bunt for a hit and defeat the shift on Wednesday night.

“It’s a good baseball play to get on base, to build an inning and keep the line moving and, the more important thing, to put teams on notice that he has that ability and he will do it,” said Roberts. “He has a weapon to combat the shift if he needs and he’s confident that he can do it.

“Getting a hit helps the confidence and helps the ballclub, number one. More importantly, being able to bunt the ball and seeing the ball on the bat also helps you at the plate when you’re swinging the bat. The confidence leads to the next at-bat.”

Roberts said the Dodgers don’t necessarily need Bellinger’s first-half MVP production to be successful in October, but he’s hoping to see Bellinger’s plate discipline from the first two months of the season.

“We need him to be the guy that took walks,” Roberts said. “To be the guy that when they put the ball over the plate, he put the barrel to it. And when they didn’t, he took his base. That’s what we need from him. I’ll bet on the result if he does the process he did the first two months.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.