Depending on how things shake out this year, the Mets might need to turn to Justin Turner a lot more this year than they anticipate.
Turner turned in a solid 2011 campaign batting .260 with four home runs and 51 RBI’s in 435 at-bats while chipping in at second base, third base and in a pinch at shortstop.
With the Mets suffering from so many injuries last year (Daniel Murphy, Jose Reyes, Ike Davis, David Wright etc.), Turner was thrust into the lineup when he got called up from Buffalo. Once he was called up on April 19, Turner gave the Mets a bolt of energy right off the bat. Turner appeared in 117 games and was one of the more productive RBI’s hitters for the Mets, routinely hitting well in the clutch.
So, what kind of role can we expect Turner to have in 2012?
Initially, expect Turner to come off the bench and provide a nice bat off the bench, while filling in at second, third; maybe even at first, or possibly shortstop(although that seems very unlikely with the signing of Ronny Cedeno).
However, given the Mets track record of sustaining multiple injuries year after year, expect Turner to get enough playing time in 2012.
Consider this. In 2011, Davis, Murphy and Wright all missed at least 52 games. Expecting that core to stay sturdy and relatively healthy all season maybe asking for a lot.
While Turner is arguably (and I stress arguably) better defensively than Murphy at second base, he is nowhere near the batter that Murphy is. The Mets want the second base position to be more of an offensive position going forward, and while Turner is no slouch, Murphy is the preferred choice at second base. And with Davis and Wright entrenched at first and third, respectively, Turner will find himself squeezed out of a starting job.
We all know the best laid plans often go awry and to not think Turner will see significant time in 2012 is a bit naive.
A crimp in the plans, though, is how the franchise views the prospects of second baseman Reece Havens and if he’ll get a shot to earn a spot on the Mets’ roster. It’s not inconceivable for Havens to win a spot on the Mets this spring or earn a promotion over the summer if he proves to be healthy. Staying healthy has long been the downside of Havens.
The moral of the story here is Turner has to keep proving it. Turner has to compete for his playing time. They say competition breeds success.
So if Turner keeps working hard and plays with a chip on his shoulder, then maybe we can expect an even stronger season for Turner in 2012. For now, the only place for Turner is on the bench unless injuries play a significant part of the Mets’ 2012 season.
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