Dodgers' Justin Turner returns after MRSA scare: 'Not a joking matter'

ByMark Saxon ESPN logo
Friday, August 14, 2015

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers activated third baseman Justin Turner from the 15-day disabled list before their game with the Cincinnati Reds Thursday.

Turner missed 14 games with an infection in his right leg.

"I know he wanted to be active," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He feels good. The main question today was how he felt this morning. Once he felt good this morning, we knew we'd have him in this role."

Turner's injury began as an ingrown hair and became inflamed after he scratched it, eventually becoming a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection that could have spread to other areas of his body and become a serious illness.

Doctors lanced the infected area and stuffed it with gauze. The area of the infection didn't completely close until Wednesday, Turner said.

"It was scary. It's not a joking matter," Turner said. "I didn't think it was that bad until I came in after the off-day and [trainer] Stan [Conte] told me I had to get to the emergency room. A couple days later, I was told it was MRSA. That's a pretty scary situation, and they got me on all kinds of medicine to get rid of it."

Turner signed with the Dodgers two winters ago on a minor league deal but has batted .332 with a .922 OPS the past two seasons to cement himself as the Dodgers' No. 3 or 4 hitter, depending on the opposing pitcher.

The Dodgers typically give him a day off every three or four games because he has a history of knee and hamstring injuries.

Mattingly said Turner will play some at second base while Howie Kendrick is on the DL with a strained hamstring.

MRSA bacteria typically remain confined to the skin, but they can also burrow deep into the body and cause life-threatening infections in bones, joints, the bloodstream, heart valves or lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic's website.

"Obviously, if it spreads over your whole body or gets into my organs or anything, that's a pretty serious situation," Turner said. "The good news is I got in right away and got it taken care of."

Once doctors cleared him to begin his workouts, they warned him against getting sweat in the infected area.

That meant that Turner often had to take frequent rests between batting-practice sessions to avoid sweating. He also had to take frequent breaks so that a trainer could redress his wound.

"It turned a workout that probably would have taken an hour to three and a half hours," Turner said.

Turner got back into baseball shape in Arizona and did not require a rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues.

He said he got more than 20 at-bats against live pitching at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch facility, where recently drafted players and injured minor leaguers were working out.