FORT MYERS, Fla. — Over a two-day span in late December, J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner effectively traded places. One day after Martinez left the Red Sox to become the Dodgers’ designated hitter on Dec. 17, Turner agreed to join the Red Sox in a role that will see him largely taking on the DH job Martinez has held for the last five years.

In that vein, Turner is effectively Martinez’s replacement in the middle of Boston’s lineup, but the Red Sox don’t just envision Turner filling the Martinez-sized hole in their offense. They also expect Turner to provide an off-field presence that rivals – or potentially surpasses – that of Martinez.

Early in camp, Manager Alex Cora was riffing about Martinez (who he calls “J.D.”) and Turner (who he calls “J.T.”) when he started using each player’s last name to avoid confusion with their similarly-sounding nicknames. The manager is hoping the similarities don’t end with phonetics.

“J.T. is a pretty good player,” Cora said. “And he has been the leader of that group over there in L.A. for a while. I hate comparing situations but it feels similar to what happened in ‘18, bringing J.D. to that group. And with Turner here, it feels the same way. Just talking to him and (hitting coach Pete Fatse) having conversations with him about approaches and preparation and all that stuff. I think it’s very similar.”

Martinez, 35, and Turner, 38, have had similar careers in some respects. Both were cast off by clubs early in their careers and turned minor league contracts into accolade-filled resumés. Both right-handed hitters have championship rings and have consistently been offensive producers for the better part of a decade.

In a nine-year span from 2014-2022 (min. 3,000 plate appearances), Martinez and Turner rank among the top 20 hitters in baseball in OPS, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS+.


Kiké Hernández, who played with Turner in Los Angeles from 2015 to 2020 and with Martinez in Boston for the last two years, is one of the few players who has played with both sluggers. A major part of the Sox’s recruitment of Turner, Hernández believes his good friend will have a more wide-ranging impact on the club than Martinez did.

Martinez, who rarely played the field with the Red Sox, had a meticulous routine that called for him to spend most of his time between at-bats swinging in the batting cage underneath the dugout. Turner, a natural third baseman who will see time at first base in addition to his DH duties this season, has a different in-game routine. Hernández thinks that difference will prove notable.

“They both prepare really well and they both have a really good idea on how to attack pitchers,” Hernández said. “I would say (Turner) is going to be a little more vocal than (Martinez). J.D. spoke in a lot of the meetings in terms of how to attack the (pitchers), but I think (Turner) is going to be more engaged in the game. He’s going to take way less swings during the game, so he’s going to be paying a little more attention. He’s going to speak out on other things, not just how to attack the (pitchers).

“(Turner) still considers himself a defender as well, even though he’s gonna be DHing a lot,” Hernández said. “He’s probably going to be more in tune with everything that’s going on as far as defense and offense. And in the clubhouse, I think (Turner) is going to be a little more involved than J.D. was.”

Throughout Martinez’s time in Boston, Cora often said he viewed Martinez as a quasi-hitting coach because of Martinez’s aptitude for helping teammates fix problems with their swings. Martinez’s obsessiveness over every aspect of his swing is well-documented. While Turner might not fine-tune his mechanics or watch as much video as Martinez, Hernández expects Turner’s impact to be felt throughout the lineup.

“I don’t think he’s such a mechanic freak like J.D. is but he’s still gonna make sure he takes his time to talk to guys that are grinding or some of the younger guys,” Hernández said. “If they have anything, he’s a guy that’s gonna be really good at that.”


Much has been made in the past few weeks about a leadership shift within the Red Sox’s clubhouse now that Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi and others have departed. Hernández, who said last month that the Sox needed players who “had the ability to change the culture in the clubhouse,” is taking on a more vocal role and wants Turner to join him. While Martinez’s obsessiveness with hitting made him a leader among hitters, he was never the loudest guy in the room. Turner just might be.

“He’s a guy that’s gonna bring a lot to us, not just in the batter’s box, but also doing the little things off the field,” Hernández said.

Turner, who reached the postseason in all nine of his seasons with the Dodgers, hopes to instill a winning culture in Boston. He believes that process will be an organic one.

“I think leadership isn’t something that’s just passed to someone. I think it’s earned,” he said. “Obviously, I am a new guy in here and I’m going to have to earn a lot of people’s respect and that’s OK by me. I enjoy the conversations. I enjoy spending time in the cage and around the field. I like to think I’m a baseball guy and I think, over the course of time, hopefully pretty quickly, I’ll earn everyone’s respect. And it’s not just about me. There are a lot of guys in here that have done a lot of special things in their career and it’s gonna be a collective group of leaders that drive the ship.

“Once you win, and you’re part of a winning culture, that’s something that you come to expect everyday you show up to the field,” He added. “There’s a lot of guys that have won and had have had success so there will be a lot of guys walking in the clubhouse every single day expecting to win. I think that’s how it should be when you’re playing for a franchise like the Red Sox.”

Having switched coasts, clubhouses and leagues, Turner and Martinez are now tasked with bringing their winning ways to their new clubs after long stints with their old ones. Cora hopes Turner’s transition is a seamless one.


“The lingo is different, but I think the results, if you look at their careers, pretty similar, right?” Cora said. “Winners, accomplished big league hitters that care about winning. Probably, the process is different, but the results, we hope they’re the same.”

CONNOR WONG suffered a left hamstring injury in Thursday’s 15-3 blowout win over the Phillies and will undergo further testing, Cora told reporters. Cora said the club will know more about Wong’s prognosis Friday.

“It doesn’t look great right now but hopefully we get better news tomorrow morning,” Cora said.

Wong entered Thursday’s game in the fifth inning and got one at-bat before being lifted for Elih Marrero in the sixth inning. It’s unclear exactly how Wong was injured.

Wong, who is one of just two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster along with Reese McGuire, is expected to be a major part of the club’s plans behind the plate in 2023.

THURSDAY’S GAME: Christian Arroyo hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the third inning, and drove in five runs as the Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 15-3 at Fort Myers, Florida.


Wilyer Abreu also hit a grand slam in the seventh inning.

Rafael Devers was 2 for 4 with two RBI.

Tanner Houck started for the Red Sox. He did not allow a run or a hit in 1 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out two.



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