Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers roster underwent sweeping changes this past offseason, and among the most notable was letting longtime franchise cornerstone Justin Turner sign with the Boston Red Sox.
Beginning his career in L.A. as a Minor League signing, Turner established himself as a leader in the Dodgers clubhouse. He became a pillar in the community and one of the most productive and consistent players on the field.
Turner was also a key leader in the clubhouse, so without him on the roster, the Dodgers will have the challenge to replace his voice.
“It’s going to be tough,” Max Muncy recently said. “He was such a leader with everything that he did. He did so many things behind the scenes that no one knows about.
“One of the things we’ve always been complimented on is the clubhouses we’ve had. We have such a good clubhouse, we always welcome guys in, guys feel right at home. He was probably one of the biggest reasons for that. We’re going to have to find a way to pick up the slack.”
Freddie Freeman only spent one season as a teammate with Turner, but he is aware of the impact the All-Star made in every aspect of the team. Turner played a role in Freeman signing with the Dodgers.
“You can never fill Justin Turner’s void in the Dodger community, Dodgers clubhouse and what he means to Los Angeles. Just because he’s with the Boston Red Sox doesn’t mean he’s not loved here,” Freeman said. “I think everyone in Los Angeles loves Justin Turner, and so do we. Just like we love Trea Turner, we love Cody.
“Unfortunately there’s a business side of the game. Even though you go to new teams, you’re still loved by the old team. Justin’s impact is far beyond him going to a different team. You don’t try and step up, it just happens. We’ve got a lot of great guys in the clubhouse.
“We’ve got a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Clayton Kershaw and we’ve got a lot of guys who have played together for a long time. A couple new guys that fit together perfectly on this team. I’m really looking forward to seeing it.”
Austin Barnes, who is considered the unofficial captain of the team, is also confident the Dodgers will be able to replace the leadership void, even if it will be a bit of a challenge.
“I love J.T. He was definitely a voice for a lot of people,” Barnes said. “It will be hard, but we’ll figure it out. We’ll adapt and figure out who we are as a team, the leadership and stuff like that.
“We’ve got guys like Mookie and Freddie, who have been playing baseball in the big leagues at a high level for so long. I think we’re going to have a really good team.”
Mookie Betts is less concerned about the leadership void and feels there’s too much being made of who will be considered the Dodgers’ team leader.
He is willing to step up into more of a vocal role if needed, but he also feels it’s more of a natural thing for someone to step up than something he needs to focus on.
“Whatever is kind of asked,” Betts said. “I’ll sit back and watch as well. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. That’s why we’re here.
“We’ve got a lot of vets here that can definitely lead the charge. I think maybe we’ll find a groove in that, but starting off that’s definitely not a concern of mine.”
Who could step up into a leadership role for the Dodgers?
Freeman and Betts are the obvious choices to become clubhouse leaders, along with Barnes, who is also well-respected. But J.D. Martinez and Miguel Rojas helped fill that role with their prior organizations and could take on that job in L.A. as well.
As for Clayton Kershaw, he is another option, but the future Hall of Famer has previously discussed it’s harder to make an impact on the entire team when he isn’t playing every day.
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