While Justin Turner played a round of golf with friends earlier this week, the subject came up again. It always does.
“I still talk about it,” Turner said.
More than two months after the Dodgers recorded their final out of the season, the disappointment from the World Series remains.
“Unfortunately, I can say it was pretty similar to last offseason,” Turner said. “It stings for a long time. I said it last year: I could win three World Series in the future and I’ll remember losing the one. Well, now we’ve lost two. I don’t think that’s something you’ll really get over.”
As Turner recovered emotionally and started to prepare physically for next season, something happened that placed the defeat to the Boston Red Sox in context: Parts of Southern California were ravaged by the Woolsey Fire.
Turner will play Sunday morning in a celebrity softball game to raise money for people affected not only by the Woolsey Fire, but the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks and the Camp Fire in Northern California. Other confirmed participants include Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx, Charlie Sheen, Brad Paisley and Mira Sorvino. Tickets can be purchased at ca-strong.com.
The event was organized by three Milwaukee Brewers who were born and raised near the affected areas: Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas.
Turner spent his childhood in Lakewood but now lives in the San Fernando Valley. His residence was never in danger, but he could see the flames from there.
“The ashes were in our backyard,” Turner said.
Moustakas, a free agent, reached out to Turner about participating in a fundraiser. Their relationship dates back a couple of years to when Moustakas was playing for the Kansas City Royals. They were both candidates to earn All-Star berths via the online Final Vote, and the Dodgers agreed to encourage their fans to vote for Moustakas on the condition the Royals did the same for Turner. The campaign was a success, as Turner and Moustakas made their first All-Star teams.
“To be that close to it, when they reach out and say they want to put something together to help people out, I’m always onboard for that kind of stuff,” Turner said.
Turner will be hosting his own charity golf tournament in Thousand Oaks on Jan. 28. Information is available at justinturnergolfclassic.com.
Between planning community events and visiting children in hospitals, Turner has been working out at Dodger Stadium this offseason. Other regulars include Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Austin Barnes and Enrique Hernandez. Closer Kenley Jansen is expected to join the group soon. Newly added reliever Joe Kelly dropped by last week.
The offseason was especially short for Turner.
“I actually think I went back and worked out three or four days later,” he said. “I can’t sit at home and do nothing and think of the World Series. I have to go out there and blow off some steam.”
Mindful that he is now 34, Turner is following a workout program designed by Dodgers trainers Brandon McDaniel and Travis Smith. Turner credited a similar program for limiting him to a solitary stint on the disabled list after returning from a broken wrist he suffered at the end of spring training.
Turner is particularly upbeat about the progress of the Seager, the former All-Star shortstop who is recovering from elbow and hip operations.
“Seager looks awesome,” Turner said. “He’s not ahead of schedule, he’s not behind schedule, he’s right where he thought he would be at this point. He’s working out, lifting weights with us, he’s conditioning with us. He’s on the field playing catch. He seems to be in a pretty positive frame of mind going forward, which is obviously a very, very, very uplifting thing for all of us.”
Seager started running outdoors with the other players, according to Turner.
Of the salary dump that sent outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds, Turner acknowledged, “It caught me off guard, obviously.”
The Dodgers also traded left-hander Alex Wood and catcher Kyle Farmer as part of the deal. In exchange, they received two prospects and right-hander Homer Bailey, whom they promptly released.
Turner said he doesn’t share the widespread concerns about the shortage of upgrades the Dodgers have made this winter.
“I’ve been around these guys for enough years now where I trust what they’re doing,” he said. “Our guys, they’re not pulling stuff out of left field. There’s a reason for why they do what they do. Obviously, they haven’t made a corresponding move yet, but I’m sure there’s something in the works.
“At the end of the day, I feel like when opening day comes, it will probably make a lot more sense to everyone than right now because I’m sure a lot of people are scratching their heads trying to figure out what’s going on.”
Asked if he is a fan of free agent Bryce Harper, Turner responded, “I mean, yeah.”
“Listen, there’s no guarantees,” Turner said. “You have some guys that outperform their contracts, you have some guys that underperform their contracts and there’s no way to predict one way or the other. Just to go out and throw a bunch of money at someone — as a guy who’s been through free agency before, yeah, that would be nice if you’re that guy getting showered with money — but at the same time it doesn’t guarantee anything.”
What Turner is certain of is that the Dodgers are better prepared to return from a World Series loss than they were last year. Because the Dodgers had a short winter as a result of playing into November the previous season, Turner said position players had questions about how to pace themselves in spring training last year. They endured a rough start to the regular season and were 10 games under .500 in mid-May.
“Everyone has that feel and knows exactly what they need to do coming off a short offseason,” Turner said. “I’m hoping and thinking we should get off to a way better start than we got off to last year.”