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MLB Monday Brights: Stitches out, all in for Boston Red Sox’ Justin Turner after HBP to face

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Thank God It’s Monday!

And, yes, we mean it.

This week’s pick-me-up, bright-light notes from around sunny MLB spring training (and the World Baseball Classic) to start the week off right:

Face Time to heal

Less than a week after getting hit in the face by a pitch and taken to taken to the hospital, Boston Red Sox veteran Justin Turner was back in the clubhouse Sunday, joking about still having most of his big red beard — and predicting he’ll be ready to start on Opening Day in a couple of weeks against the Baltimore Orioles.

“They actually tried to shave the beard, but one of the nurses suggested they just trim a little bit of the ‘stache,” Turner told reporters, including MLB.com‘s Ian Browne in Fort Myers, Florida. “So very thankful for that.”


Turner, the longtime Dodger who signed a two-year, $21.7 million deal with the Red Sox in December, had nary a loose tooth, nor hairline fracture to show for the frightening moment when right-hander Matt Manning’s pitch struck him six days earlier. By the time he showed up in the clubhouse he’d just had his stitches out — so many that he didn’t know the exact number, only that it seemed like more than the 16 originally reported.

“They did say I have a dent in my cheek,” he said. “No breaks, but a dent.”

justin turner
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Consequently, Turner was back on the practice field ahead of schedule and said he hopes to be in the opening lineup March 30 — “as surprised as you are, probably,” that he didn’t suffer worse injuries.

Turner, 38, said it was the first time he’d been hit in the face by a pitch with the exception of the 2003 College World Series.

“And same thing, laceration, no breaks,” he said. “I don’t know why I’ve been so lucky, but I know I’m very lucky and thankful that it was as minor as it was considering I got hit in the face.”

MLB Bobblehead of the pack

Second-year shortstop Jeremy Pena is getting a Houston Astros Bobblehead Day in April — well ahead of the first career big-league bobblehead his predecessor, All-Star Carlos Correa.

And the Chicago Cubs are giving away Henry Rowengartner bobbleheads when they celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie “Rookie of the Year” in July.

But the coolest bobblehead news we saw as teams began announcing their promotional schedules this spring was the Toronto Blue Jays’ Aug. 12 tribute to Joey Bats himself, José Bautista, the OG of epic bat flippers.

Check it out:

The only thing cooler would be if the bat had a rubber-band launcher.

Caissie at the bat, fan club at the game

Big lefty-hitting outfielder Owen Caissie, a top-15 prospect in the Cubs’ system, had a big day alongside Team Canada teammates Freddie Freeman and Tyler O’Neill in Sunday’s whopping 18-8 World Baseball Classic victory over Great Britain — hitting a two-run single and long home run to center.

Because of the way the ball bounced after clearing the yellow stripe in center at Chase Field, Caissie was unsure of the distance and essentially sprinted for about 340 feet of his home run “trot.”

No less impressive was the boisterous presence in the stands of the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect, outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, one day after he was cut from big-league spring camp, alongside fellow Cubs minor-leaguer James Triantos, another top-15 prospect in the system.

“Love the home run trot, too,” Crow-Armstrong said. “It was funny.”

Must be the coffee

Team Italy pulled off the mild upset by advancing with Cuba, out of Pool A into the WBC quarterfinals. And by the end of the weekend, the secret of their success had been revealed.

Manager Mike Piazza has the only known dugout espresso station in the 20-team field.

“Coffee is like water in Italy,” Piazza explained to reporters covering Pool A play in Taiwan.

He might be passing out double and triple shots by the time his boys start playing again as the competition gets significantly heated from here.