Yasiel Puig, center fielder?
The idea entered Manager Don Mattingly’s mind as he watched Matt Kemp play in right field Monday night.
Kemp started there in place of Puig, who was out of the lineup because of a bruised left hand. Kemp, who was moved to left field almost two months ago, will be in right again Tuesday, as Puig remains sidelined.
Of Kemp, Mattingly said, “I just thought he looked really comfortable. He’s always said that he felt better in right than left. It looked that way last night.”
When Puig returns, could the Dodgers move him into center field to allow Kemp to remain in right?
“We’ve actually been throwing it around a little bit,” Mattingly said. “It made me think about it, honestly.”
Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke currently are splitting time in center field. Both players lack the range of a prototypical center fielder.
Asked why he hadn’t previously thought of playing Puig in center field, Mattingly replied, “Pretty much because he’s out of control most of the time.”
Mattingly said he fears Puig’s all-out style could result in a collision between outfielders.
“I don’t mean it in a bad way, but I think he kind of scares the outfielders from the standpoint that he’s not going to give up,” Mattingly said. “He’s going to go catch every ball. We’ve seen it in center when he’s in right and he goes all the way into basically Van Slyke’s area. I think that communication, at this point, is still not where it should be.”
Puig played center field in 10 games last season.
“Last year, he looked a little rough out there,” Mattingly said. “I know he would like to play center. He’s actually taken fly balls.”