MIAMI — Sixteen months after his baseball career appeared in doubt, Brian Wilson was back in the big leagues Monday when the Dodgers activated him from the disabled list before the start of their four-game series with the Marlins.
"You can call it a significant step. But I don't keep track of those things," Wilson said. "Yeah, it feels good to be activated after only 16 months. But by no means have I proved anything.
"Just another surgery. And now I've got to go get outs. No excuses."
Wilson, a three-time All-Star who saved 163 games during a four-year span with the Giants, hasn't pitched in the majors since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in April 2012. But after watching Wilson, 31, throw last month at UCLA, the Dodgers decided he was worth a gamble and signed him to a free-agent contract.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said he plans to start Wilson out slowly but would eventually like to use him in a late-inning role, taking some of the pressure off Ronald Belisario and Paco Rodriguez, who have each appeared in at least 60 games.
"I don't know if we're really looking, necessarily, for anything, but just kind of making sure that we keep the guys there healthy and not overused," he said. "Brian's another guy that we can use later in the game."
To create a spot for Wilson, the Dodgers sent outfielder-first baseman Scott Van Slyke back to triple-A Albuquerque. That move is only temporary, with Mattingly saying Van Slyke will be recalled when rosters expand Sept. 1.
In the meantime, the Dodgers will carry 13 pitchers and only four bench players.
Puig plays meet the press
Three hours before Monday's game, Yasiel Puig alternately smiled and snarled his way through a 20-minute question-and-answer session with about 50 journalists, many of whom lobbed softball questions centered on Puig's return to his off-season home in Miami.
"I had a Cuban feast in my house last night," Puig joked in Spanish. "I'm very happy to be here."
But Puig wasn't so happy when asked about news reports that had him out on the town until the wee hours Monday — reports he angrily brushed aside without confirmation or denial. A reporter from a Spanish-language radio station pressed him on his testy relationship with the media, telling Puig that stories about his reckless driving and other off-the-field behavior were part of the price of fame.
"I didn't pay for any fame," Puig shot back. "The press should focus on the things that are happening on the field and worry just about the game. You're always looking for other stuff."
Teammate Carl Crawford, who made his major league debut at 21, a year younger than Puig is now, said being in the public eye is something Puig will have to adjust to.
"It seems like he's really an authentic guy," he said. "You've got to learn what to say and what not to say.
"It's a learning curve. He'll get it."
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