Turner on track in knee surgery recovery

Turner on track in knee surgery recovery

LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner got an early Christmas gift last week when Dr. Neal ElAttrache took away his crutches and cleared the Dodgers third baseman to throw and hit.

"Right now I'm right on schedule," said Turner, who had microfracture left knee surgery on Oct. 21. "I don't think it should be a problem in Spring Training as long as I have no setbacks, and so far I've had no setbacks. So knock on wood, I'll be ready when everybody else is."

Management believes the optimism, having passed on third baseman Todd Frazier last week and instead taking three prospects from the White Sox in a three-team deal.

Microfracture surgery is generally necessary for joints where arthritic deterioration of cartilage results in painful bone-on-bone contact. Tiny fractures are drilled into the affected bone, causing a cartilage-like growth that cushions the bone-on-bone contact.

Turner spent eight weeks on crutches while the microfracture healed.

"It feels great," he said at Friday's annual children's holiday party. "I got off crutches beginning this week, started strengthening stuff, doing cardio stuff as low impact as I could. I saw ElAttrache and he was pretty pleased with how it looked."

Turner still has one big hurdle to clear, as the pounding of running full speed will put the greatest stress on the repaired area.

"Running will be the last thing I start doing, running outside full speed, and even when I do get cleared, I'll keep as low impact, as far as conditioning-wise," he said.

Turner, a non-tender by the Mets two years ago, has gone from non-roster invitee for the Dodgers to starting third baseman, not to mention voiceover co-star in the club's clever holiday video animation.

In 2015, he hit .294 with a career-high 16 homers and 60 RBIs, playing in 126 games with a two-week stint on the disabled list for a skin infection and extra days off to manage the knee issues.

Turner said he shares teammate disappointment at the loss of starting pitcher Zack Greinke, but doesn't see it as fatal blow to the club's chances.

"Obviously, not only [will I miss] his pitching, but he was one of my favorite teammates to sit and talk to on the bench on days he wasn't pitching," said Turner. "Unfortunately, he ended up going somewhere else. At the same time, it's part of the game and he's only one player. We've seen the last few years that it doesn't matter how great one guy is, it takes a collective 25 guys to win in the playoffs. Hopefully we can add a lot more balance to our team and be able to sustain a nice long run in the playoffs.

"The best thing about baseball, it doesn't matter what you have on paper, you look at all super teams put together and they've never really panned out. It's about finding the right group of guys that complement each other with the right chemistry and have everyone pulling on the same end of rope. Look at the Royals, without any one name jumping off the page, and they win the World Series. As far as big, sexy names, that doesn't mean a lot in baseball. It's one of the reasons I like baseball so much. You've got to go out and play."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.