Roberts said Puig is nursing soreness within his hamstring and around his knee. This latest iteration of hamstring soreness originated in Tuesday’s fifth inning, when Puig sprinted to beat out an infield single. Roberts thought the knee issue stemmed from a play Puig made to steal a home run in the next inning.
“With his leg history, just want to stay ahead of it,” Roberts said before Thursday’s game. “Maintenance. You saw him run last night, attempt to steal a base. It’s not something where he couldn’t play tonight. It’s just more of his workload and making sure he stays strong.”
After his winning single Wednesday, Puig joked that he would rather have won the game with a home run than a single so he didn’t have to use his hamstrings.
Roberts also viewed Thursday as an opportunity to provide Joc Pederson a start against a left-handed pitcher and, ideally, build off his slump-busting single in Wednesday’s win. Pederson manned center, while Enrique Hernandez played right field. Though Pederson bats left-handed and Puig right-handed, Pederson has become a comparable option against left-handers.
Puig has suffered a remarkable run of poor luck against left-handed pitching this season, mystifying the team and producing improbable reverse splits.
Despite more walks than strikeouts in 102 plate appearances, Puig is hitting .149 with a .472 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Both marks represent roughly half of his statistics against right-handed pitching, though he has put the ball in play far less often against right-handers.
In 2015 and 2016, Puig hit left-handers better than right-handers. His role upon his recall last August was specifically to play against left-handers, in a platoon with trade-deadline acquisition Josh Reddick.
Now is the opposite. Left-handers have started five of the last six games Puig has rested, dating to June 27.
Roberts has said Puig informed him he is not seeing the ball well from certain left-handed throwing angles. The manager noted that Puig will play Friday at Dodger Stadium against San Diego starter Clayton Richard, who is left-handed.
Roberts said there has been no change to the statuses of injured pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, who were with the team for the series in Phoenix. The two veteran starters are making more than $29 million between them this season, and both are under contract for 2018. McCarthy has made 16 starts while battling blisters and a return of the yips. Kazmir has not pitched at all in the major leagues because of hip issues and arm fatigue. His triple-A rehab assignment was cut short last month. … As his triple-A rehab assignment continues, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (herniated disk) homered Thursday.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura