Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman are the Dodgers’ iron men

Freddie Freeman, works stiff? The moniker hardly seems to apply to a guy who makes $27 million a year, flies charter planes, stays in five-star hotels, and makes $100 a day on the streets while playing baseball for a living.

But that’s the mindset of a veteran who has started all of the Dodgers’ 123 games on first base this season, even as his team heads for its ninth National League West title in 10 years by a 19½ game margin Friday in Miami .

“It’s my job,” said Freeman, who hits .326 with a .920 on-base plus slugging percentage, 16 homers and 79 RBIs. “I don’t come here to sit in the bank and collect a paycheck. I don’t believe in that. Nobody in this world comes to work and just sits there. If so, they won’t keep their jobs, you know?

“It’s been my approach since I’ve been in the big leagues. I am an employee. My employer has a job for me and I will do it.”

Freeman, 32, has a colleague in the Lunch Pail Brigade. Trea Turner, 29, has started 123 games at shortstop for the Dodgers.

Only two other major leagues have started every game on the field this season, and they’re also teammates playing first base and shortstop — Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson, who are at 126 games and counting for the Atlanta Braves.

“I don’t know if it’s a pride thing or an ego thing, but I feel like I owe it to my teammates to be out there every day if I’m healthy,” said Turner, who competes in the .311. 847 batting OPS, 18 homers and 85 RBIs.

“If I need a breather or something is bothering me, it’s wise for the team to take a day off, but I’m feeling good so I want to play. That’s what I get paid for, so I should do it when I can.”

There is no Iron Man competition between players who have eight All-Star Game selections, a MVP award (Freeman in 2020), and two World Series rings between them, with Freeman leading the Braves to the 2021 title and Turner Washington Helps Win 2019 There’s no friendly bet on who can go deepest into the season without a day off.

“No one in this world comes to work and just sits there. If so, they won’t keep their job, you know?”

– Freddie Freeman, Dodgers first baseman

Freddie Freeman runs for first place after hitting a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jordan Sheffield.

Freddie Freeman runs for first place after hitting a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jordan Sheffield.

(David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

It’s more the result of the Dodgers fulfilling a promise they made when the players arrived in Los Angeles last summer, Turner via a trade from the Nationals last summer and Freeman via a six-year free-agent deal $162 million he signed in March.

“When I spoke to teams during the offseason, all I asked was about winnings, family and playing every game,” said Freeman, who played all 162 games in 2014 and 2018 and all 60 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 for the Braves denied. “The Dodgers said, ‘If you want to play, you can play.’ I said, ‘Okay, sounds good to me.’ ”

Turner has only played 162 games once in his eight-year career, in 2018. He missed 62 games in 2017 with a pulled right hamstring and fractured right wrist, and 39 games in 2019 with a broken finger, but in his first conversation with Dave Roberts he told the Dodgers manager he prefers to be on the lineup every day.

“Yeah, I told them that when I came over last year,” Turner said. “I never liked days off because I felt like I was always going to have double substitutions in the fifth inning or pinch runs or pinch hits or defense. So I never liked it from that aspect.

“I don’t know if it’s a pride thing or an ego thing, but I feel like I owe it to my teammates to be out there every day when I’m healthy.”

– Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner prepares to kick Jesus Aguilar out of the Miami Marlins

Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner prepares to kick out Miami Marlins’ Jesus Aguilar August 19 at Dodger Stadium.

(Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

“Now it’s a bit different with him [designated hitter in the National League], but I just told them I want to play when I’m feeling good. I feel weird when I have a day off.”

Both Turner and Freeman, who are now second and third in the ranking behind leader Mookie Betts, say playing every day helps them maintain their rhythm at the plate, which is evident in their performance.

Freeman leads all of baseball with 156 hits and Turner is second with 155 hits as the duo looks to become only the sixth group of teammates — and the first since Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki and Bret Boone in 2001 — to have a one-two in the Major scores league in hits.

They are also on track to become the eighth group of teammates and the first since Betts and Dustin Pedroia for the Boston Red Sox in 2016 to each hit 200 in a season.

“Baseball is a game of routine and repetition,” Freeman said. “When you take a day off, you never know if that one day might throw you off for a day or a week and then you focus on getting it back. … I know how my body is doing, how I have to prepare it for a game. I know how to stick to a 162-game schedule.”

The advantage for Roberts is that Betts is in the lead, Turner and Freeman are beating in second and third, Will Smith is stuck in the scavenge yard and Max Muncy is usually fifth. There’s virtually no guesswork when it comes to filling the top of the lineup.

“It’s huge,” Roberts said of the importance of sending his star players. “They have that attitude that they want to be there every day and it’s contagious. We have a lot of good players. Everyone wants to be there every night. It’s a high-class problem.”

But with the Dodgers deep in dog days in August and holders of an 86-37 major league record, it wouldn’t be prudent to give Freeman and Turner more downtime in the last six weeks of the regular season like they’re Fresh and healthy for the playoffs?

“Certain guys are just built physically and mentally to play every day and they’re working to prepare for that,” Roberts said. “I think we did a good job when we were able to get them on their feet in certain games to help them physically and mentally. But I don’t hesitate to add their names to the list every day.”

Both Freeman, a left-handed hitter, and Turner, a quick right-handed hitter, have been drawn 11 times early from lopsided games this season, with Turner sitting 37 innings — the equivalent of about four games — and Freeman sitting for 34 innings of those games.

“Those three innings in a game might not seem like a lot, but that’s three innings from our feet, which is worth an hour of baseball,” Freeman said. “That accumulates over the course of a season. That’s like a full three or four games free.”

Freeman, Turner and Roberts all agree on when that first day off will come for them this season: after the Dodgers win the division title.

But Freeman doesn’t envision a leisurely September while the Dodgers gear up for October. His priority is gaining home field advantage during the playoffs, a luxury afforded to the team with the best baseball record.

“If we make it to the World Series, I want home field advantage, so you have to think about that,” Freeman said. “Hopefully we can win the division soon and I get a tag but I’m fine if I never get a tag.

“My body feels great. I am no longer treated. I’m not hurting right now. My job is to play baseball, and if there’s a baseball game, I want to play.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-26/dodgers-trea-turner-freddie-freeman-playing-every-day-iron-men Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman are the Dodgers’ iron men

Emma Bowman

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