LOS ANGELES -- Third baseman Justin Turner is out for the National League Championship Series after being sidelined by a Grade 2 left hamstring strain sustained in the Dodgers’ 9-2 loss to the Braves in Game 4 on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
“Obviously, it sucked,” right fielder Mookie Betts said. “He's such a huge part of our lineup, a huge part of our, well, everything -- the culture, everything. When you think of ‘L.A. Dodgers,’ you think of Justin Turner. So not having him in the lineup makes it a lot harder.”
Filling Turner’s place on Los Angeles' NLCS roster is infielder Andy Burns, who had last appeared in a Major League game on June 22 before pinch-hitting for Alex Vesia in the third inning on Thursday. Burns just missed driving in a run in his only at-bat, grounding out on a superb play by second baseman Ozzie Albies to end the inning. The Dodgers rolled to an 11-2 win and cut the Braves' series lead to 3-2.
When manager Dave Roberts mentioned Burns as a potential substitution for Turner following Wednesday's game, it came as a bit of a surprise. Signed as a Minor League free agent in December, Burns appeared in nine games for the Dodgers in mid-June, picking up three hits -- including his first in the Major Leagues -- and three walks. Since then, Burns was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 23, designated for assignment and released on July 20, then re-signed to a Minor League deal on Sept. 10 -- just before the Sept. 15 postseason roster eligibility deadline.
According to Roberts, the main reason Burns was selected over infielder/outfielder Zach McKinstry and outfielder/first baseman Billy McKinney is that Burns, like Turner, hits right-handed. Third base was also Burns’ primary position in the Minors, and he made two appearances there for the Dodgers, as well.
Burns, 31, made his return to MLB this year after five seasons bouncing between the Minors, KBO and the Australian Baseball League. In 58 games across two Minor League levels in 2021, he slashed .237/.374/.425 with seven homers.
To make room for Burns on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated for assignment right-hander Edwin Uceta. The Dominican right-hander made 14 appearances with the Dodgers this season, going 0-3 with a 6.64 ERA.