New Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren talks Ryan Braun, boos and batteries

GLENDALE AZ – New Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren was too focused on his job to realize all the hullabaloo when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun came to bat in the first inning on Saturday.

But then it struck Haren how much Braun was getting booed as he made his way to home plate after being announced by the public address announcer at the Brewers Spring Training home in Maryvale.

“It was pretty loud,” Haren said.

To back track a bit, Braun was making his first home appearance of the spring – or taking his first at bat in front of Brewers fans since being suspended 65 games last year for finally coming clean on using performance enhancing drugs.

And the reaction was stark considering how big a fan favorite the former Granada Hills High standout is in Milwaukee after emerging as one of the best players in baseball and winning a Most Valuable Player Award.

Now he was getting booed, passionately.

There were some cheers to be sure.

But there were a lot of boos too.

Haren, standing on the mound taking it in, pointed out afterward a significant amount of Dodgers fans made the trek to Maryvale on Saturday, and that probably escalated the boo factor.

I think it was probably all the Dodgers fans,” Haren said.

Haren knows first hand just how passionate Dodgers fans can be, having played at Chavez Ravine so many times as an opposing player over his career.

I’ve been booed many times,” he said.

It didn’t matter he grew up in Southern California or pitched collegiality at Pepperdine.

As a professional, he was simply an opposing player donning the uniforms of the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals and Angels.

That meant he was the bad guy.

And he was treated as such.

Like the time he was minding his own business in the Cardinals bullpen during the 2004 National League Divisional playoffs against the Dodgers and realized someone threw batteries at him.

Seriously.

I think they were probably Double AA’s,” Haren said. “They weren’t D’s.”

And thankfully they missed.

But it definitely opened Haren’s eyes how ardent Dodgers fans can be.

You want to be on the Dodgers’ fans good side,” he said. “It’s a lot better that way.”

New Dodgers IF Justin Turner excited to be back home in SoCal

GLENDALE, AZ – Justin Turner still isn’t quite sure why the New York Mets cut ties with him last winter, but now that he’s landed with his hometown Dodgers the disappointment has dissipated.

“I’m in a pretty good place now,” said Turner, a utility infielder who went to Mayfair High in Lakewood and played collegiality at Cal State Fullerton.

For a variety of reasons.

The Dodgers seem poised for a significant run, and the prospect of competing for championships is inspiration to anyone.

But he’s also back home for the first time in his career and with the Dodgers losing key bench players like Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr. from last year’s club – not to mention starting second baseman Mark Ellis – a slew of roles need filling.

“It’s just a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to it,” Turner said.

The shock of being non-tendered by the Mets still lingers a bit – he played well in Queens for three seasons and still counts many of his ex-teammates as life-long friends – but the rush he felt upon stepping foot in the Dodgers clubhouse for the first time confirmed how a positive can sometimes derive from a negative.

“Coming in here and seeing Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw…It’s not really starstruck, but when you walk in you get a little different feeling,” Turner said.

And the opportunity to make an impact is legit.

The Dodgers leaned heavily on a versatile bench last season, and while manager Don Mattingly hopes a reduction of injuries results in less reliance on his bench, he also understands the importance of keeping his starters fresh and maintaining a well-oiled reserve unit.

Turner seems to fit right into that equation, his ability to man all the infield positions while carrying a decent bat making him an ideal candidate to help fill the void left behind by Punto and Schumaker.

If not push for the starting job at second base.

On top of all that, he gets a chance to play in front of his family and friends.

“It’s exciting for my friends, being so close they can come whenever they want,” Turner said. “I don’t know what’s going on with the TV thing, but some of them have Time Warner so they can watch every day. So it’s exciting.”

He’s also coming aboard at the opportune time. The Dodgers have undergone a complete transformation since the Guggenheim Partners took over for former owner Frank McCourt – a revolution Turner detected as an opposing player – and they are among the National League favorites to reach the World Series.

As soon as they made that big trade (with the Boston Red Sox) you sat back and were like, ‘OK these guys are trying to make a push,’ ” Turner said. “And then they keep adding on pieces and adding on pieces and the ownership group, obviously, is fantastic and the fans are loving it.”

For the inner Dodgers fan in Turner, it’s a welcome change from when he visited Dodger Stadium as a Met and sensed the disconnect between the fans and McCourt.

Coming in here as an opposing player, being from here, the fans weren’t showing up and that was really disappointing,” Turner said. “But now it’s an exciting time. From the front office to Donnie Baseball running the ship and then you walk in here and see all this talent, it’s just an extremely exciting time.”

Dodgers Chad Billingsley clears an important hurdle – mentally and physically

GLENDALE AZ – Chad Billingsley has pitched long enough to know a level of soreness is perpetually associated with the job.

After undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right elbow last April, the trick now is differentiating between the the good kind of sore and bad.

Billingsley was confronted with that challenge Saturday after a 30-pitch session off the mound that included some curve balls. It’s the first time he’s thrown breaking balls off the mound since since surgery, and he understandably felt some soreness afterward.

His mind, though, began playing some tricks on him.

“Obviously I was a little worried how it was going to react,” Billingsley said. “I thought I was going to wake up really stiff.”

Instead he awoke Sunday morning feeling fine.

It was a poignant reminder not to overreact, that soreness is simply part of the pitching equation.

Especially after throwing 30 consecutive pitches – including hard breaking balls – for the first time since major surgery.

“You almost forget what it’s like to throw,” Billingsley said.

And that even reconstructive surgery doesn’t protect him from the normal aches and pains of pitching.

That is a process Billingsley is still coping with.

“You expect yourself to feel perfect, it’s a new ligament or tendon and you kind of expect it to be fine all the time and not have a problem,” Billingsley said. “So anytime you feel soreness you’re like ‘something;s wrong’ You have that on the back of your mind after having surgery.”

To help clear that mental hurdle Billingsley communicates with the Dodgers medical staff, their feedback helping him sort the inevitable discomfort from the alarming.

“What soreness is normal and what’s not normal,” he said.

What he felt Saturday after his bullpen session was to be expected, and the fact he woke up feeling fine a day later simply affirmation.

“You just have to get used to throwing again,” he said.

Billingsley is scheduled to do some light throwing on Sunday and expects another 30-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.