LOS ANGELES – By definition, the Roberto Clemente Award isn’t awarded for lifetime achievement. For Justin Turner, who was chosen Thursday as the Dodgers’ nominee for the annual award, the honor would be a just reward for years of service.
Turner joined the Dodgers in 2014. Two years later, he registered his eponymous charity as a tax-exempt nonprofit. With help from his wife, Kourtney, and partner Clint Carlton, Turner has used the foundation to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars back into the community through grants and a whirlwind of service activities.
The novel coronavirus pandemic paused the baseball season from mid-March until the end of June. Coincidentally, the level of need in the community was high. The Turners used that time to select different restaurants and order thousands of meals to be delivered to the Los Angeles Dream Center, which fed more than 12,000 individuals per day at the height of the pandemic.
“One of the best parts about that was making the phone calls to the (restaurant) owners,” Turner said. “You get to hear directly what it means to them: we were able to keep all our chefs in the kitchen, we were able to keep all our waitresses because of the order.”
The Turners volunteered at the Dream Center’s drive-through food distribution while the baseball season paused. They donated an estimated 900,000 meals over the course of 82 days, culminating with the Dream Center naming their food bank The Justin & Kourtney Turner Food Bank.
The Turners also donated meals weekly to the doctors, nurses and staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. They served as honorary hosts for CHLA’s Walk and Play LA event, helping to raise critical funds for the hospital. Last December they hosted CHLA’s Winter Wonderland, a carnival for hundreds of patients.
The Turners also make frequent visits to patients at Cedars Sinai Hospital and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, and serve on the board of UCLA Health’s Operation Mend, which provides healthcare and social support for wounded warriors and their families.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Kourtney Turner does a lot of it, Justin Turner said.
“I would have no chance of doing this if it wasn’t for her,” he said. “She spends hours and hours on her computer every day answering emails, setting up food deliveries, reaching out to sponsors. We don’t have a whole lot of help. She takes the reins on pretty much everything. She’s a believer that if you want things done the way you want them done, do it yourself – almost to a fault.
“She always gets it done. There would be no Justin Turner Foundation if it wasn’t for her.”
Clayton Kershaw was the last Dodger to win the Clemente Award, in 2012.
Turner isn’t expected to need long to recover from his strained left hamstring. Tuesday, he was placed on the injured list retroactive to Aug. 29. Manager Dave Roberts expects Turner to be activated Tuesday, Sept. 8, as soon as he’s eligible.
Pitcher Pedro Baez was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday. Roberts said the right-hander could face live hitters as soon as Sunday, and return at some point next week. Baez has been on the injured list since Aug. 20 with a right groin strain.
Roberts said pitcher Joe Kelly, out since Aug. 9 with inflammation in his right shoulder, will face live hitters this weekend too. Kelly must serve a five-game suspension once he is activated from the injured list.
Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urías will start the weekend series against the Colorado Rockies in that order. … Antonio Senzatela and German Marquez will start Friday and Saturday for the Rockies, respectively, with Sunday’s starter still to be announced. … If the Dodgers win two of the three games, they will match the franchise record for most series without a series loss to begin a season (14).