Justin Turner Isn’t Psychic, But He’s Still Red-Hot for the Blue Jays

Justin Turner of the Toronto Blue Jays is off to a hot start at the plate, helping show he can still make a difference in his age-39 season.

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 14: Justin Turner #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits an RBI double against the Colorado Rockies during the third inning in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on April 14, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

TORONTO — It may feel like it to Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland, but Justin Turner of the Toronto Blue Jays really isn’t a mind-reader. Well .. at least the red-hot-hitting Turner wasn’t on Sunday during a key moment on the way to a Toronto victory.

Freeland, who made his debut with the Rockies in 2017, and Turner, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers between 2014 and 2022, have now faced each other 56 times during their careers. Turner has certainly gotten the better of the matchups, posting a .373/.429/.490 slash line when he squares off against Freeland. That includes a 3-for-3 performance on Sunday with three runs driven in during Toronto’s 5-0 series-clinching win.

After the game, I asked Freeland about what made Turner such a historically tough out for him.

“He stands on the dish. He’s really good at using the entire field and he thinks along with you,” Freeland said on Sunday. “I’m almost positive, I won’t know unless I ask him, but I’m almost positive he knew there in the fifth inning that curveball was coming.”

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Ah, that last sentence got my mind racing. Did Turner really know Freeland was going to try to throw him a curve in the fifth with George Springer standing on second? Well, watch the video below to see what happened and how Freeland nearly negated what looked to be a very good piece of hitting from the 39-year-old Turner.

Knowing what Freeland had said, I had to ask Turner before the Blue Jays took on the New York Yankees on Monday about that moment and if he really knew a Freeland curveball was coming.

“I did not,” Turner smiled. “Actually, when I hit it, and you can ask some of the guys, when I came in the dugout, I thought it was a changeup. I didn’t know a curve was coming and didn’t even know it was a curveball until I got back in the dugout.

“It actually wasn’t a terrible pitch. I just was able to get the barrel on it and snuck it by him. I thought he was going to catch it. He stuck his glove up there and just missed it.”

Chalk it up to what has been a scorching start for Turner after signing a one-year, $13 million deal in late January. Entering Tuesday’s contest against the Yankees, Turner was slashing .362/.466/.574 through his first 54 plate appearances of the campaign. That .362 batting average, by the way, lands him third in the AL and sixth-highest among all MLB players while his 1.040 OPS ranks fifth in the AL and 10th in the entire league.

So, in the end, Turner pushes back on the notion that he has any kind of clairvoyance with Freeland or any other pitcher. However, it’s clear that the Blue Jays are already benefitting from his years of being regarded as one of the game’s toughest outs.

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