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The Check-In: Justin Turner unsettled at thought of not playing again for the Dodgers

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The Check-In: Justin Turner unsettled at thought of not playing again for the Dodgers

The coronavirus outbreak has prevented Justin Turner from entering the field, but it has not prevented the Dodgers third baseman and his wife, Kourtney, from helping people out.

In March, they began a partnership through the Justin Turner Foundation with the Dream Center, a Los Angeles nonprofit, and local restaurants to provide meals to those in need, including LAUSD students who can no longer get free meals at school. Thursday was day 53 of the collaboration, which delivered over 500,000 meals.

And on May 16, the couple will be honorary hosts for the fourth annual Walk and Play L.A. event at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the second year in a row. The event is held virtually and streamed live on Facebook. All the money collected is donated to the hospital.

“Obviously the season has been postponed and that’s a shame, but we can’t just sit around waiting for the season to start,” said Kourtney Turner. “We want to participate and provide all the help we can to any relief effort.”

The couple’s charity work began long before the COVID-19 outbreak. They founded their foundation in 2016 – two years after Turner signed to his hometown – and focused on supporting homeless veterans, disease-fighting children, and youth baseball organizations. Their annual charity golf tournament has grown every year. 140 people participated in January.

Born in Long Beach and starred in Lakewood Mayfair High and Cal State Fullerton, Turner has been anchored in the community since joining the Dodgers. He is one of the most recognizable – with the help of his red mane and beard – and much-loved professional athletes in Los Angeles. But there’s a chance he won’t be playing in LA for much longer.

Turner, 35, plans to hit a free agency after the 2020 season – if there is one. The odds of Major League Baseball holding onto a season have seemingly grown in recent weeks, but starting and finishing a season is still not guaranteed. So Turner doesn’t know if he will ever play in a Dodger uniform again. The possibility is disturbing to him.

Clayton Kershaw's 7th Annual Table Tennis 4 Goal

The coronavirus outbreak has prevented Justin Turner from entering the field, but it has not prevented the Dodgers third baseman and his wife, Kourtney, from helping people out.

(Tibrina Hobson / Getty Images for Kershaw’s Challenge)

“It’s definitely something I’ve thought about a few times and I don’t want to,” Turner said. “Obviously there is a possibility that there is no season and my Dodger career could have ended in the playoffs last year, which would be difficult. It would be sad. Sad to think about it.”

Turner said he has not discussed a contract extension with the Dodgers. The focus is on figuring out a plan to play in 2020.

As a union representative for the Dodgers, Turner has more insight than most other players into discussions between MLB and the players’ association. He finds media messages of various sizes both promising and frustrating. Promising because it means the league is willing to think creatively to organize a season. Frustrating because none of the proposals, as far as he knows, have been formally submitted to the union.

MLB, motivated by the billions of dollars at stake, is expected to send a proposal for opening day in early July in the coming days.

“Now we’re just waiting for that proposal to form a season and what that season looks like,” Turner said.

Turner is not on the union’s board of directors, but he is close to Colorado Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy, a former New York Mets teammate who is one of eight board members.

“I made myself available to him if he needed an exhaust to make some kind of vent,” Turner said, “but I don’t know if he’s going to involve me in that.”

Meanwhile, Turner’s baseball activities are limited. He tee off in a soft casting net in the backyard. Last week, he went to a local park to play catch with teammate Joc Pederson and Dodgers strength trainer Brandon McDaniel.

He spends some free time helping his wife host a podcast she started in March. She hosts the show and edits the audio. He sets up the equipment. Seven episodes of ‘Holding Kourt’ have been released – a reminder of how long they’ve been without baseball.

Earlier this week, they stayed up late to watch the opening day of the Korean Baseball Organization. They thought it was not strange to have fans in the stands, but any appearance of live sports was good enough. They were excited to watch.

If MLB has a 2020 season, it will certainly be without fans at locations yet to be determined. It will be a strange sight – and perhaps Turner’s last chance to win a World Series for his city.

Sign up and register for free to raise money for Walk and Play L.A. at www.walkandplayla.org. Participants can deposit money in any of the CHLA service areas or choose to donate to CHLA’s COVID Emergency Response Fund.

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