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Justin Turner is known as “J.T.” to his Dodgers teammates and coaches, “Red” to some friends because of his bright orange hair and beard, and @redturn2 to his 247,300 Twitter followers.
After Wednesday night’s 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies in Chavez Ravine, you can add “Nacho Man” or the “Cheese Whiz” to the Dodgers third baseman’s growing list of nicknames.
Turner’s third home run of the young season, a towering solo shot to left-center field in the third inning, absolutely destroyed a fan’s plate of nachos in the new “Home Run Seats” lining the outfield walls, splattering yellow cheese sauce all over the chest and sleeves of the fan’s dark-green hooded sweatshirt.
“Yeah, tonight was the first,” Turner said, when asked if he’d ever hit a home run into a plate of nachos before. “That was kind of fun.”
For the fan, too, even though those cheese stains are probably going to be impossible to get out. A SportsNet LA reporter caught up with the fan, named Brando, later in the game.
“I saw the ball coming toward me, and my first thought was not to try to reach over the fence,” Brando said on the telecast of the game. “Luckily, the nachos saved me, and I can’t believe I ended up with the ball.”
Umpires actually reviewed the home run to make sure there was no fan interference. That’s when Turner, watching the replay on the stadium video board, noticed the damage his home run did to Brando’s hoodie and his snack.
“I saw that it was nachos, so I came up into the clubhouse and asked Javier [a clubhouse attendant] if he could run out a new tray of nachos for the guy,” Turner said. “I mean, I felt bad. I’m sure it was not a $2 plate of nachos. I ruined a meal for him, so I had to replace it.”
Brando thanked Turner for the nachos during his television interview, and the Dodgers gave the fan a blue World Series hoodie.
“I know Justin will trade a home run for buying a guy some nachos,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I’m happy that it didn’t get overturned. I’m happy he got the homer. And we can always replace nachos.”
Turner also drove in the first run of Wednesday night’s game with a single to center field, giving him his sixth multi-hit game in the team’s first 12 games. A notoriously slow starter, Turner is batting .390 (16 for 41) with three homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs.
Turner, 36, entered this season with only three homers and 62 RBIs in 485 career plate appearances in March and April, far below his monthly outputs for May (16 homers, 88 RBIs), June (28 homers, 94 RBIs), July (21 homers, 75 RBIs), August (36 homers, 115 RBIs) and September/October (20 homers, 80 RBIs).
“I think it’s just the law of averages,” Roberts said of Turner’s early power surge. “April hasn’t been good for Justin as far as slug, but he was due to slug a little bit in April. I’m happy that it’s here in 2021. He looks really good at the plate; he’s taking good at-bats, doing what he does.”
Turner, who signed a two-year, $34-million contract to return to the Dodgers after spending the previous seven years in Los Angeles and helping the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series, said he isn’t necessarily looking to drive the ball any more than normal.
“I just feel good, I feel comfortable, I feel good with my work in the cage before the game,” Turner said. “I’m not trying to hit a bunch of home runs. I’m just trying to take good at-bats, hit balls hard somewhere, and a couple of them have gone over the fence so far, so that’s nice.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.