Trea Turner makes first All-Star start on home field

The former NC State player appeared in his second straight Midsummer Classic

Former NC State standout and Dodgers star Trea Turner was set to start his first All-Star Game on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Alex Gallardo / AP Photo)

For Trea Turner, being an All-Star is a family affair.

“I just enjoy playing the game in general,” the former NC State standout said at the media day for his second straight All-Star appearance. “But it’s big for my family. Awards, accolades, they’re more for my family. They get really excited, and I’m excited for them.”

Last year, Turner made the team as a reserve. He entered the game in the seventh inning and went 0 for 2, swinging at both pitches he saw in the game and making outs. This year, he’ll be on the field from the outset. He won the fan vote at shortstop and was elected a starter for the National League team, thanks in large part to his family’s campaign.

“My family’s got a little group chat from home. They’re in there telling each other to vote,” he said. “I wasn’t really following the voting. My mom — my parents are. They’re the biggest fans of mine: My parents, my siblings — sister — aunts, uncle, friends. This is more for them. It’s good to see me get that recognition for them.”

The fans of his current team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, also played a big role in his selection. The game will be played at Dodger Stadium, and the hometown fans also voted in L.A.’s Mookie Betts. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was chosen as the game’s starting pitcher, and three other Dodgers — Freddie Freeman, Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson — are on the roster.

“They’re huge,” Turner said of the support from the Los Angeles fans. “I said that when I got traded over here. One of the craziest things is how well we travel. Opposing stadiums, our fans show up. That’s what happens when you win and win consistently for eight, nine, 10 years. You get people to come out and support the team and players. It’s rewarding when things like this happen.”

With his family and Dodgers fans turning out to the polls, Turner was in a close race with Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson — the two are neck and neck in most offensive categories so far this season.

Turner got the news that he came out on top in the voting when manager Dave Roberts announced it in the locker room a week ago.

“Dave came in and mentioned it,” he said. “I didn’t know if it was going to happen. I was hoping, of course, because it’s at home, but it was out of my control. I wasn’t trying to worry too much.”

At the end of the first phase of voting, on June 30, Turner held a slim lead over Swanson with 2.18 million votes to Swanson’s 1.99 million. In phase two, which took place over the first week of July, after the ballot was narrowed to two finalists for each position, Turner held onto the lead to win by a slim 52% to 48% margin.

“It means a lot,” Turner said of the starting job. “There are a lot of good players out there. Dansby’s having a heck of a year. It was a tight race, but the fans showed up and voted. That’s pretty cool.”

All-Star starter is just the latest cool thing in a long list of them for Turner. He helped lead the Wolfpack to the College World Series as a sophomore in 2013. One of his teammates on that squad, Carlos Rodon, has also been chosen for the last two All-Star Games, although Rodon will miss this year’s game after developing a blister and split nail on his pitching hand.

Turner was drafted in the first round in 2014, No. 13 overall, and made his MLB debut the following year. In 2016, he was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year. He led the league in stolen bases in 2018, won a World Series ring with the Washington Nationals in 2019 and finished seventh in MVP voting in 2020.

Last year, Turner was traded to the Dodgers at the MLB deadline in July and won the batting title.

This season, Turner took the field with baseball’s best players in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, which took place after press time.

The memories of his 2021 All-Star appearance were fresh in his mind as he made a return trip to the Midsummer Classic.

“Last year, the first one was awesome. I’ll never forget those memories,” he said. “The flyover. The national anthem. They really roll out the red carpet for the beginning of the game. The goose bumps you get, you only feel that a few times a year: Opening Day, the playoffs and the All-Star Game. Standing on the line (during pregame introductions) with those guys out there, it’s a cool moment.”

It’s one of the few moments he’s able to appreciate for himself, rather than for the family back home.

“I’m trying to enjoy it,” he said. “Do the best I can to make everybody proud and soak it all in.”