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Dodgers move Matt Kemp up to No. 3 slot, drop Yasiel Puig in lineup

For the first time in 2018, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig occupied a position in the batting order besides the No. 3 spot. And for the first time since Aug. 27, 2014, Matt Kemp batted third for the Dodgers.

On the opening night of a three-game series against the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, manager Dave Roberts made some adjustments to his batting order. The Dodgers stumbled through the first two weeks of the season, unable to strike an offensive rhythm. Roberts rewarded Kemp for a recent streak of success, with seven hits in his previous three games heading into Friday.

“He’s been swinging the bat well, having some good at-bats,” Roberts said before the game. “Moving Yasiel down to the sixth adds some length to the lineup, gives him a different look.”

Both Kemp and Puig are placeholders in the No. 3 spot, which is usually occupied by third baseman Justin Turner. With Turner rehabilitating a fractured wrist, Roberts was searching for a consistent way to stack the top of his lineup.

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Puig was the initial choice to bat after the leadoff tandem of outfielder Chris Taylor and shortstop Corey Seager. Puig posted a .500 on-base plus slugging percentage during his first 11 games. Roberts suggested Puig was chasing too many inside fastballs as he dealt with the slump.

Puig also appeared to be dealing with a spate of bad luck. He ranked 10th in average exit velocity for hitters with at least 25 balls put in play heading into Friday, according to Baseball Savant.

Toles stays hot — but gets hurt in OKC

Sent to triple-A Oklahoma City to start the season, outfielder Andrew Toles experienced a setback on his road back to the majors. He injured his hamstring after a three-hit night that included a home run, extending a hot streak that featured six hits in his previous two games.

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Oklahoma City manager Bill Hasselman indicated Toles experienced cramps, and would require a few days of rest.

The Dodgers opted to demote Toles, rather than Joc Pederson, for the opening day roster, in part so Toles could play on a daily basis as he returns from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament.

Pederson has struggled to start the season, batting .143 heading into Friday, with Roberts willing to forgo the platoon advantage and start Kemp, a right-handed hitter, over Pederson, a left-handed hitter, against right-handed pitchers.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

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Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes


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