ATLANTA — Justin Turner has become synonymous with October baseball, so his absence from the Dodgers’ starting lineup during Sunday night’s 5-4 loss to the Braves suggested something beyond his recent offensive drought was at play.
The veteran third baseman has been dealing with a “stinger” on the right side of neck, according to manager Dave Roberts, and it was decided a night on the bench in addition to Monday’s off day would benefit him. Turner had started 77 consecutive postseason games for the Dodgers, dating to 2014. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and was hit by a pitch.
Roberts said the decision was reached after he viewed a video of Turner on defense in Saturday’s Game 1, during which he had trouble turning his head to the right. Turner’s discomfort arose during batting practice on Saturday, according to Roberts.
Turner, whose 13 playoff homers are the most in franchise history, entered the day 3-for-28 (.107) this postseason.
“Certainly when guys are struggling it’s a combo,” Roberts said. “It’s the chase and when you do get pitches to handle you’re not finishing the at-bat. So I think that’s what’s happening to Justin.
“I think a lot of our guys are a little bit caught in between on velocity versus spin. So it’s more about just the mindset of being aggressive in your zone and what you’re good at, and everything outside of that, try not to offer at it. Again, it’s a lot easier said than done and then if you get two strikes you have to just fight and compete. But he’ll get out of it.”
Chris Taylor replaced Turner at third base.
Dansby Swanson, who grew up in Atlanta, said he had a difficult time coping with the fact the Falcons had a bye week on Sunday.
“I got up early last week and watched them while they were in London — and I’m an Atlanta lifer,” Swanson said before going 1-for-4 and scoring the game-winning run. “It was funny because when we were in New York earlier this year is when the Hawks were playing the Knicks and all the clubhouse folks for the Mets were giving me a hard time saying that the Knicks were going to beat the Hawks, and obviously, that didn’t even come close to happening.”