While Red Sox fans tried to make sense of the sight of Mookie Betts in another uniform on Friday night, they weren’t the only ones confronted with the foreign sight of a beloved player in a new uniform.
From 2014-22, Justin Turner was, in many ways, the face of the Dodgers.
“Justin was the guy that ended up being the mouthpiece for a lot of the players,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Given that role, Roberts admitted it was surprising to see Turner in another uniform.
“I don’t think anyone saw it ending that way,” Roberts said of Turner’s departure from Los Angeles to sign with the Sox last winter.
Did Turner enter his free agency after the 2022 season thinking his Dodgers tenure was at its end?
“I didn’t. I’ll just leave it at that,” he said. “It seemed like I wasn’t in their plans.”
Even so, Turner downplayed the significance of the reunion, suggesting his prior experiences bouncing between teams early in his career made the sight of ex-teammates relatively easy to digest.
“Putting on that uniform was obviously special, being a Southern California kid and then going on to accomplish the things that I accomplished there. It was something that I never dreamed,” said Turner. “[But] it wasn’t like I was a Dodger my whole life.”
Still, he’s celebrated by Dodgers fans as if he’d been wearing blue out of the womb. Turner — hitting .289/.359/.484 with 20 homers and 84 RBI for the Sox this year — was recognized before the game as the Red Sox’ nominee for the Heart and Hustle Award, resulting in a joint ovation from Red Sox and Dodgers fans.
Turner — who along with his wife, Courtney, is hosting a 5K this weekend to raise money for the Justin Turner Foundation, which supports veterans, as well as children battling life-altering illnesses and diseases — said he’s relishing his Boston experience. The Sox, meanwhile, are relishing the Turner experience.
“I haven’t seen a guy, even when I played, that has made an impact not only on the field but off the field so quick with an organization,” said Sox manager Alex Cora. “Forget the baseball part of it, but as a person what he brings to the equation on a daily basis to his teammates [and] what he brings to the equation on a daily basis to the community, it’s been fun to watch.”
Electric in blue
Exactly one month after the Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers, Kiké Hernández returned to Fenway Park amid a season that had transformed dramatically with his once-again team. Hernández, who hit .222/.279/.320 in 86 games for the Red Sox, carried a .296/.348/.494 line in 25 games for the Dodgers into Friday’s matchup.
“There’s no way around it. I was pretty bad over there, and it’s been pretty good over here. No sugarcoating it,” said Hernández. “What the trade allowed me to do was just start over. It allowed me to start with a clean slate and it basically felt like Opening Day all over again.”
Hernández — who played for the Dodgers from 2015-20 before spending the last two-and-a-half years in Boston — described being traded to a team that knew him so well as a “best-case scenario,” allowing him to shortcut the getting-to-know you process. Still, while Hernández expressed disappointment about his performance in Boston in 2022-23, he felt considerable appreciation for his time with the Sox.
“It meant the world,” he said, noting that he became a father just after signing. “I’ve got some wonderful memories here. On the baseball side, getting to call Fenway Park home is a blessing . . . I enjoyed my time here a lot. Like I said, I have nothing but great things to say about this place.”
Roberts, whose stolen base for the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees remains an iconic moment in Boston sports history, likewise took joy in his return to Fenway. “There’s not a lot of places in the world that seem like only good, positive memories,” said Roberts. “For me, the city of Boston and Fenway Park are that.” . . . Former Sox J.D. Martinez and Joe Kelly are both on the injured list, and thus didn’t make the trip. Former Sox reliever Ryan Brasier (released earlier this year) did make the trip and was saluted along with Betts in a video tribute celebrating their contributions to the 2018 World Series.
Duval gets his groove back
Pop quiz: Who entered Friday as the Red Sox’ leader in OPS? That would be outfielder Adam Duvall, who carried an .876 mark on the strength of a .265/.329/.547 line.
Duvall’s numbers soared in Houston, where he went 9 for 16 with three homers and three doubles in four games. He credited a swing that had become more direct to the ball and less loopy for the explosion.
“The time that it took my barrel to get to the ball was kind of how slow, making it tough for me to pull the ball,” said Duvall.
Duvall, who was moved from center to left Thursday to limit his running one night after he slammed a foul ball off his leg, was back in center on Friday — suggesting an unexpectedly swift physical rebound.
“I thought it was going to be much worse than it was,” he said. “That first night it kept me up quite a bit. It was throbbing. When I woke up and got moving around, it was actually hurting much less.”
Wait and see
Kenley Jansen, sidelined since experiencing tightness in his right hamstring Wednesday in Houston, threw long toss on the field prior to Friday’s game. While he wasn’t available to pitch against the Dodgers on Friday, the closer remains hopeful he’ll avoid the injured list.
“It’s day by day,” said Jansen. “I’m going to try to do my best to be out there as soon as I can but also listen to the training staff. Everything that I do, I don’t feel it, but at game speed, that’s when it’s an issue. We’ll see.”
With Jansen unavailable, Cora didn’t commit to an alternate closer, suggesting that he needed to preserve flexibility to employ Chris Martin — the natural fallback — in the highest-leverage situation.
Duran needs more testing
Jarren Duran, on the injured list with a sprained left big toe, will undergo testing Monday to get a more precise diagnosis of the injury he suffered climbing a wall in Houston.