Puig’s lineup absence isn’t a punishment
The timing looked a little suspect, but Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts insisted that the absence of Yasiel Puig from Wednesday night’s lineup was not further punishment for the mercurial outfielder’s lackluster effort on the bases Tuesday night.
“This decision was made [Tuesday] prior to the game,” Roberts said. “I let all the players know when they’re going to play, when they’re not going to play. … Tonight is not punitive at all.”
Puig, who has star potential but has confounded the Dodgers with his occasional lapses in concentration, was yanked from Tuesday night’s game after he failed to run out a ball that went off the right-field wall for a sixth-inning single. It should have been a double.
Puig sounded contrite afterward, saying the decision “was the correct one, because I wasn’t giving 100%.” Roberts said he had an “extended” conversation with Puig after the game and that his message was received well.
“He wants to be a better teammate,” Roberts said. “I’m not going to say a mistake like that is not going to happen again with him or any other player, but I think he wants to get better.”
Was Roberts angry with Puig?
“Not at all,” he said. “You know, things happen, guys make mistakes. We talk about expectations, vision, accountability, and for me, you have to be responsible for your actions. I think Yasiel, the team, everyone, will be better for it.”
Roberts was well aware of Puig’s reputation before he took the Dodgers job in November. He pulled Puig aside during the team’s winter caravan and promised him “a clean slate” for 2016.
Though Puig is struggling at the plate with a .247 average, he has played “Gold Glove-caliber defense” in the eyes of Roberts. The manager added that Puig’s history did not play a role in Tuesday night’s decision.
“I dealt with this the way I felt was best for him and the ballclub,” Roberts said. “It’s not a cumulative thing. It’s something for everyone. There are expectations for how we play the game, and if they’re not followed, there are consequences.”
The end of a long road back from shoulder surgery appears to be in sight for left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who gave up four hits over four scoreless innings in his third rehabilitation start for triple-A Oklahoma City.
Ryu, who hasn’t pitched for the Dodgers since 2014, struck out three and walked none against Fresno. Of his 55 pitches, 40 were strikes. Ryu’s fastball was clocked between 88 and 90 mph, he had good command of all four of his pitches, and he threw 10 extra pitches in the bullpen after his outing.
Ryu will make at least two more minor league starts. He could return to the rotation for the June 10-12 series at San Francisco.
The Dodgers will use Thursday’s day off, their first since May 5, to give ace Clayton Kershaw, who is 5-0 with a 0.64 earned-run average and three shutouts in five May starts, an extra day of rest before his next start. Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Kershaw will pitch this weekend’s series against the New York Mets. … Julio Urias, the 19-year-old left-hander who is rated the game’s top pitching prospect by Baseball America, takes a 27-inning scoreless streak into Thursday’s start for Oklahoma City.
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