LOS ANGELES — His hamstring injured and his season likely over, Justin Turner got to within 25 feet of first base and tried to stop. He throttled back, hobbling at first before slowing enough to turn the hobble to a limp. Slowly, painfully, he worked his way back to the Dodgers’ dugout, wincing with every step, before Albert Pujols helped him down the stairs and through the tunnel that leads to to the clubhouse.
So now, one loss away from an inglorious end to a remarkable season, the Dodgers are faced with overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the NL Championship Series without their All-Star third baseman, who sustained a hamstring injury while hitting into a double-play in the seventh inning of the 9-2 loss against the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed in his postgame interview that the early indication is that Turner has a Grade 2 strain, which is defined as a partial tear of one or more hamstring muscles.
“So, I think that’ll be it for him,” Roberts said. The normal recovery period for a partial tear is four to eight weeks.
Turner’s injury is just one more addition to the Dodgers’ list of unavailable star players. Clayton Kershaw has been out since the beginning of October with a forearm/elbow injury, and first baseman Max Muncy was lost for at least through the NLCS with an elbow injury he suffered on the final day of the regular season.
Turner is one of several Dodgers’ regulars who have struggled offensively during the postseason. He had just one hit in 20 at bats in the five games against the Giants in the NLDS, and he jokingly asked for the ball after that one hit, a single. In four games against the Braves, Turner has two hits, a walk and a hit by pitch in 12 plate appearances.
Roberts, who was in no mood to expound on much of anything after his team’s loss on Wednesday, said he spoke to Turner and described his mood as, “obviously, very disappointed.” Asked how Turner’s absence might impact his team’s psyche, Roberts said, “Honestly, what I’m thinking about, and what I expect our guys to think about, is only tomorrow.”
The Dodgers didn’t make Turner available to reporters after the game.
The injury occurred with the Dodgers trailing 5-2 and Walker Buehler, pinch-running after Pujols led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, at first base. Turner hit a ground ball to short, and Dansby Swanson — seeing Turner pull up — took the ball to second on his own and threw to first for the double play.
“I feel bad for Justin,” Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock said. “JT — he’s a warrior. You could see him walking off the field. It’s a hamstring. I’ll let him talk to you about that, but you never want to see your teammate go down.”
The Dodgers will be able to replace Turner on the roster for Game 5. Roberts said the choice will be an infielder, and he listed Zach McKinstry, Billy McKinney and Andy Burns as options.