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Turner already showing what he can provide for the Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider already is seeing the potential benefits of having Justin Turner in his starting lineup.

Turner hit an RBI single, walked and scored a run in a 14-13 Grapefruit League loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. The 39-year-old Turner signed a $13 million, one-year deal with the Blue Jays after spending last season with the Boston Red Sox.

“That’s what we’re looking for from J.T., understanding hitting situations,” Schneider said. “That’s exactly what he’s been doing his whole career.”

After Bo Bichette’s single in the first inning, Turner drew a walk from Phillies starter Kolby Allard. After Danny Jansen also walked, Daulton Varsho knocked Turner in with a two-run double.

In the third inning, Bichette led off with a single up the middle, then stole second base. Turner followed with an RBI single over shortstop Edmundo Sosa’s outstretched glove.

Although some of Toronto’s regular starters such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer didn't play Saturday, Schneider said having Turner hit behind Bichette worked in the opener.

“Still working through it a little bit,” Schneider said of his lineup. “It’s nice to have him behind Bo. We’ll play around with it, there’s a couple different ways to do it, but he’ll be at the top of the order, for sure.”

Bichette finished with two singles and two runs scored.

“I was encouraged with Bo,” Schneider said. “We know he’s aggressive, and he gets into a 3-0 count his last at-bat laying off some pitches. Bo can hit in his sleep, so rolling out a couple knocks early is no surprise.”

Turner was a designated hitter Saturday but also played first base, second base and third base with Boston. He hit .276 with 23 homers, 96 RBIs and a .800 OPS last season.

“For a few years now, I’ve been in contact with (Toronto) talking about possibly being a fit,” Turner said. “I started my major league career with the Orioles. This is my third stint in the AL East.”

The Blue Jays scratched expected starting pitcher Ricky Tiedemann as he deals with inflammation between his hamstring and calf. Schneider said the left-hander is day-to-day.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Chris Nelsen, The Associated Press