Is that super-utility man Mark DeRosa on the Mets’ 2012 roster? No, just our own versatile version: Justin Turner.
Turner burst onto the scene in 2011 and was an RBI machine in his first extended big league action. But even so, Turner said at the Kids’ Holiday Party that he’s not taking anything for granted in anticipation of this season.
“I’m still going to go in there, just like I did last year, to win a job and make the team out of spring training,” he said. “I’m just trying to work hard everyday and get better everyday.”
With the return of a healthy Daniel Murphy, all signs point to Turner assuming a super utility role. Though the team has not revealed any of its plans, Turner is going to spring training thinking he will need to earn a spot on the roster by showing his versatility.
“I’m willing to do anything just as long as I’m in there to help the team win,” Turner said. “I like being in the lineup, so whatever position they want me to play, I’ll be more than willing to go out there and do my best.”
With the departure of Jose Reyes, Ruben Tejada will slide to other side of the diamond to play shortstop. Turner said that he knows Tejada is more than capable of playing on the other side and said Ruben will be an exciting player to watch.
In the meantime, Turner said that he has experience playing shortstop and has the ability to bounce around the infield, including first base. If need be, he’d even be willing to serve as the team’s emergency catcher, but he would certainly like to avoid that option.
He’s also played a handful of games in the outfield in the minors and feels confident that he’d be able to run down a fly ball, especially with the reduced fences at Citi Field.
For the first time in his career, Turner is likely to earn a professional roster spot out of spring training. However, this hasn’t changed the way he has prepared this offseason nor will he be content with simply making the team.
“I try just to focus on the things that I can control,” he said. “That’s me. Obviously, Sandy’s [Alderson] doing everything he can to constantly try to make the team better and try to have a winning, successful season in 2012.”
Turner’s main offseason goal is to improve his speed and agility in order to increase his range in the infield. He feels that an extra step will help him get to the balls that found holes last season.
On the lighter side of things, Turner plans to engage teammate R.A. Dickey in another Twitter battle, possibly in spring training. He said he’s always on Twitter checking out the latest hot stove updates.
With plenty of new faces on the Mets this season, Turner is not worried about adjusting to his new teammates. The Mets are Turner’s third team (Reds and Orioles) so he’s been used to meeting new teammates.
“I’m a pretty easy-going guy,” said Turner. “I get along with everyone pretty well so I’m not too worried about the new guys.”
Looking forward, Turner reiterated that despite his success, last season is in the past. If all the players had Turner’s attitude, this team can accomplish some big things.