Recently, many professional athletes have made communicating via Facebook and Twitter part of their daily routines. While some of these athletes are known for being controversial, others, like Justin Turner of the Mets, do it for the fans.
“I just enjoy doing it and getting the fans involved and trying to get them a little bit of perspective on what goes on from our side of things,” said Turner.
Turner informs fans of the on and off-the-field activities of life in the big leagues including what foods they eat and what it’s like to do some much travel. He also makes it a point to respond to fan tweets, whether it’s answering questions or just joking around with them.
Turner started his Twitter account, @redturn2, back in 2009 while he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system. Early on, he only had about 60 followers, but that changed drastically upon his arrival to the Mets.
This spring training, Turner and Josh Thole, an avid tweeter, went golfing on an off day. They had a conversation about Twitter, which sparked Thole to promote Turner’s Twitter account to get him some more followers.
“That’s when it started to develop, and my followers started to grow,” Turner said.
It obviously worked, since Turner now has over 6,000 followers. ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin also played a role in gaining Turner more followers.
Turner had immediate success once he was called up from Buffalo, and the fans started to take notice of his talent. His Twitter following began growing steadily, but he says his followers skyrocketed once he broke the Mets consecutive game rookie RBI record earlier this year against the Yankees in the Subway Series.
Turner believes that playing in New York gives him the responsibility of engaging such a passionate fan base. This has definitely helped him in gaining followers.
“This is the biggest stage there is in this country,” said Turner.
In addition to his presence on Twitter, Turner has become a fan favorite for making himself available by signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans. As still one of the younger guys, he appreciates being able to learn from a great crop of veterans.
“It’s really a blessing every day to come out and share a field with guys like Izzy, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright,” Turner said. “It’s an honor because I’ve watched those guys play on TV before, and now I get to be on TV with them. It’s really special and definitely something I’ll never forget.”
While he might have been a little star-struck early on, he has earned the respect of the veteran players by always hustling whenever he’s on the field.
Now that Reyes is back and with Wright on the way, Turner may see his playing time put in jeopardy. He says he’s been hearing that question a lot lately, but he answers it the same way every time.
“It’s really out of my control,” said Turner. “That’s Terry’s [Collins] job to write the lineup.”
Turner is looking forward to the return of the injured players because it will benefit the team.
“They’re great players,” he said. “We’ve been battling without them. It’s going to be nice to have those bats back in the lineup.”
Turner will be prepared in any role the Mets assign him, whether it means playing second base every day or being a role guy/pinch-hitter off the bench. While some media people have asked him about playing the outfield, no one from the team has said anything about that.
“Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do to try to help the team win,” said Turner.
For now though, Turner will continue to be an integral part of this team, offensively and defensively, and is also dedicated to be a fan-friendly presence on Twitter.
“I’m just trying to stay active on it, and hopefully it just keeps getting bigger,” Turner concluded.
Follow Justin Turner @redturn2.
Follow Jim Mancari @JMMancari.