Dodgers' Don Mattingly not worried by Yasiel Puig's slow start

Dodgers' Don Mattingly not worried by Yasiel Puig's slow start
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig eyes a pitch from Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game on March 9. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

This is a pretty quiet camp for the Dodgers. Once they determine the identities of their relievers, they do not have much to decide.

So, when Yasiel Puig gets off to a slow spring start, that becomes an issue, at least for a day. Puig is batting .174 in his first 23 Cactus League at-bats, with one extra-base hit and a .544 OPS.

In light of the way Puig finished last season -- an OPS that dropped from .915 in the first half to .780 in the second half, followed by a playoff series in which he struck out eight times in 12 at-bats -- is Manager Don Mattingly concerned about Puig's slow spring start?

"Not really," Mattingly said. "His spring was a little rough last year. I'm not really concerned about his average or anything like that. He looks fine. He's hit some balls decent."


Puig batted .167 with a .402 OPS last spring. He batted .276 with an .835 OPS in April and .398 with a 1.224 OPS in May.

In other notes from the Dodgers camp Thursday morning:

--The Dodgers' starting pitchers will start batting for themselves on Friday, starting with Clayton Kershaw. A.J. Ellis will catch Kershaw.

--Yasmani Grandal, the Dodgers' other catcher, will join the split squad headed to San Antonio for games Friday and Saturday. Grandal will be the designated hitter on Friday and will catch Zack Greinke on Saturday; Greinke will bat for himself.

--Mattingly said the Dodgers would keep the "best seven" relievers, left-handed or right-handed. J.P. Howell is a virtual lock to make the team as a left-handed reliever, with Daniel Coulombe, Adam Liberatore, Paco Rodriguez and David Huff also left-handed relief candidates.

With Greinke taking his turn Saturday in San Antonio, Huff will start Saturday in Arizona. He'll be tired; Mattingly said Huff's wife went into labor Thursday. Mattingly said Huff and right-handers Juan Nicasio and Chad Gaudin are under consideration as long relievers.

--Mattingly said he did not expect to see infielder Corey Seager, the Dodgers' top prospect, in the major leagues before September, barring injuries in Los Angeles. The Dodgers assigned Seager to minor league camp late Wednesday, but not before he wowed the new front office by getting four hits in 12 at-bats -- with six walks -- and looking good at shortstop.

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