LOS ANGELES – Dodgers manager Dave Roberts assured reporters that Yasiel Puig’s ankle was not keeping the right fielder out of Sunday’s lineup.
Puig was caught stealing second base to end Saturday night’s game, a 2-1 loss. Afterward, Puig said through an interpreter that he felt pain in his ankle the moment he was set to slide. He went into the base standing up instead and was tagged out. Roberts called Puig’s actions inexplicable and a “bad baseball play.”
Sunday morning, Roberts said that Puig did not receive treatment on his ankle after the game. So why was Curtis Granderson in right field and batting cleanup?
“When I put a player in the lineup, every situation, every pitch, every out is important,” Roberts said. “And it’s important that the guys I write in the lineup, I can trust ’em. So that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Puig has earned praise from teammates and coaches for his discipline throughout this season in contrast to years past. While he was praised early and often for his on-field talents, Puig spent much of his first five years in the United States answering to teammates, coaches and executives who have questioned his discipline.
The tipping point came last August, when the Dodgers sent Puig to the minor leagues rather than trade him at the non-waiver deadline. This year, he hasn’t been dogged by the same questions about his physical fitness, tardiness, or commitment. Puig, 26, is batting .259 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage, mostly out of the eighth spot in the batting order. His next game will be his 148th, matching a career high.
In spite of apparent improvements in his fitness, attitude, and hitting, Roberts hinted that Puig smirched his record in some regards this year even before Saturday’s non-slide.
“There’s been some things that, when you look back, I’ve kept notes of,” the manager said. “You have to have trust in all your players.”
Puig was available to reporters in the clubhouse Sunday morning, but the lineup was not.
When he met with reporters about two hours prior to Sunday’s first pitch, Roberts said he had not spoken with Puig since the final out Saturday. Perhaps the lineup card was a message in and of itself.
“Whatever message he gets from it, I’m putting the guys out there that give us the best chance to win today,” Roberts said.
RYU MIGHT MISS START
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s next start is in jeopardy because of a contusion on his left…