The springs of Yasiel Puig. What are you gonna do? Two years ago he was a camp tornado, batting .517 with three homers and 11 runs batted in. Last year he hit only .167 without a homer and with four RBIs.
Maybe a bit too close to last year, though he is now showing signs of turning it around.
Puig on Sunday hit his second home run in as many days, belting a solo shot in the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss to the Indians at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix.
On the spring, Puig is hitting .226 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Not exactly 2013, but at least he's making some movement away from last year. Despite the miserable spring a year ago, he hit .276 in April and then exploded in May, hitting .398 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.
The Dodgers’ other run Sunday also came via the solo home run. Enrique Hernandez hit his third homer in as many games to lead off the bottom of the first.
David Huff, a candidate to begin the season in the rotation if sore-shouldered Hyun-Jin Ryu is unable to go, started Sunday and threw three scoreless innings. He gave up one hit.
Joel Peralta gave up one run in the fourth and J.P. Howell threw a perfect fifth with two strikeouts. Manager Don Mattingly said those are the only two relievers assured of a place in the bullpen; for the other five spots, there's a battle among 14 relievers.
That makes every appearance by a reliever in these last 13 spring games crucial to making the team, which meant Sunday wasn’t the best outing for Chris Hatcher.
Thought to be a potential eighth-inning guy, if not a temporary closer while Kenley Jansen is out, Hatcher could retire only one of the five batters he faced. He was charged with three runs on three hits and a walk. His spring earned-run average is 10.13.
The rest of Sunday’s relievers fared much better. Paco Rodriguez and David Aardsma each tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout. Yimi Garcia took over for Hatcher in the seventh and, although he gave up three hits, did not give up a run in his 1 2/3 innings, striking out four.
Rodriguez and Garcia have yet to surrender a run this spring.