When it comes to the New York Mets vacant second base job, fans and the media often focus on candidates like Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, and Brad Emaus. While there is no doubt the above three have the best shot at breaking Spring with a starting job, there is still a forgotten man in this middle infield fight. Justin Turner, who was claimed off waivers last season from the Baltimore Orioles, will not only vie for a roster spot, but is also a legitimate dark horse candidate to nail down the starting second base gig.
Turner, who is 26 years-old, was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2006 draft. The second baseman had a variety of solid seasons in the minors, posting a career .309/.373/.442/.815 line in 5 minor league seasons. His best performance, however, came once he arrived in Triple-A for the Mets. Turner posted a sensational .333/.390/.516/.906 line with 11 HR, 35 RBI, 58 R, and 5 SB in 348 PA’s in Triple-A.
Despite Turner’s impressive Triple-A stint–including a riveting final game where he went 6-for-6, and hit for the cycle–his September call-up was nowhere to be found. What more could a minor leaguer do to get a call to the show? As disappointing as the so-called “snub” was, it obviously hasn’t affected Turner’s motivation or more importantly, the recognition he’s been receiving from the new folks in charge of the Mets. Terry Collins, the Mets manager said, “People are not mentioning him, but he’s [...] having a very, very good winter. He had a very good finish in Triple-A. So we’ve got to include him in that [second base] mix.”
Collins isn’t the only person giving Turner some love. Moises Alou, the former New York Mets outfielder and current general manager of the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican winter league, said, “Justin has been amazing [in winter ball]. I’ve told [Terry Collins] you should take a look at this guy. He’s a gamer and you’d like him a lot. I wish every player on this team was like him.”
Justin Turner will need a lot more than positive praise to make the Mets–or better yet, start for them–but if the infielder continues to hit and prove his value, he’ll certainly force the Mets to make a tough decision come opening day.
Tags: 2B Ben Berkon Brad Emaus Dan Murphy Daniel Murphy Justin Turner Justin Turner Second Base Luis Castillo Mets Mets Justin Turner Mets Turner New York New York Mets New York Mets Justin Turner New York Mets Turner Second Base Turner Turner Second Base