Dodgers aren’t counting on Yasiel Puig returning before season ends
Yasiel Puig still cannot run at full speed, four weeks after he played in his last game, and the Dodgers are not counting on him to return this season.
Puig, like utility man Enrique Hernandez, is rehabilitating a hamstring injury at the Dodgers’ Arizona training facility. Manager Don Mattingly said Thursday he is confident that Hernandez will return this season.
“Yasiel, I don’t feel as confident we’ll get back,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers started an outfield of all right-handed hitters on Thursday. In Puig’s absence, the Dodgers used three players not on the team Aug. 31 — Justin Ruggiano in left field, Chris Heisey in center and Scott Schebler in right.
Mattingly said Puig has yet to run at more than 70% full speed. The manager compared Puig’s recovery to that of second baseman Howie Kendrick, who appeared close to returning from a hamstring injury after 20 days but hit a plateau and needed another 20 days to complete his rehabilitation.
The Dodgers conclude the regular season in 10 days.
Puig, 24, has played in 77 games this season, batting .256 with 11 home runs. Of the eight Dodgers with at least 300 plate appearances, Puig’s .764 on-base-plus-slugging percentage ranks sixth, topping only Kendrick (.740) and shortstop Jimmy Rollins (.636).
Seager takes a rest
For the first time since July 29, Corey Seager’s team played a game and he did not. Seager has 569 at-bats this season, between the major leagues and minor leagues. Adrian Gonzalez leads the Dodgers with 545 at-bats.
Seager, 21, set his previous career high last season, with 475 at-bats. Mattingly said the Dodgers do not want to wear out Seager, who said he was “not really” tired but respected the team’s decision.
“Just another day off,” Seager said. “I wasn’t happy, relaxed, sad, anything.”
Mattingly said the infielder will continue to see considerable playing time, with Rollins and third baseman Justin Turner coming off injuries. On Thursday, Turner started for the first time after sitting out four games because of a sore knee, then came out after five innings in what Mattingly and Turner said was a pre-planned strategy.
“We’re going to be really careful with Justin,” Mattingly said. “We don’t feel he’s going to be in there every day.”
Turner is batting .212 since Aug. 1. He has not homered in his last 105 at-bats.
Alex Guerrero and Ronald Torreyes each played two innings at third base in relief of Turner.
The Dodgers will lead the major leagues in attendance for the third consecutive season — that is, in every full season under the ownership of Guggenheim Baseball Management.
With three home games left this season, the Dodgers figure to sell between 3.75 million and 3.8 million tickets. The franchise record of 3.86 million was set in 2007, under former owner Frank McCourt.
The Dodgers led the majors in attendance for 10 consecutive seasons (1977-86) and eight consecutive seasons (1959-66), both runs under the ownership of the O’Malley family.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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