LOS ANGELES -- Will this be the second season in a row that the outfield wall at Coors Field sends the Los Angeles Dodgers' season in the wrong direction?
It's too early to say that, of course, since the Dodgers think -- or, is that hope? -- that Yasiel Puig's hip injury won't keep him out for long. Maybe it'll be a day or two, or maybe it'll just be an inning or two -- check back tomorrow. But, if you'll recall, nobody thought Matt Kemp's shoulder injury would eventually send him off to surgery after he hit the wall in Colorado last August.
Puig landed awkwardly on the right-field wall at Coors Field after making a leaping catch on July 3, and his left hip has nagged at him for about 10 days. It did a little more than nag Friday. It insisted.
Puig jogged out a couple of ground ball outs, and manager Don Mattingly decided that was enough, pulling him from the game in the fourth inning.
"At that point, you're like, 'You can't watch that happen,' so it's something that if you're banged up, you're banged up," Mattingly said. "You can't play. It happens to all these guys."
Puig took batting practice before the game and looked fine. He ran some sprints in the outfield and looked fine. The game started and he didn't look fine. What bugged Mattingly a little is that Puig insisted he could go before the game, and then demonstrated he couldn't after hitting that sharp grounder to shortstop in the first inning.
"I think we've just got to make sure we do a better job of communication, as far as him trying to explain," Mattingly said. "I'd rather have him off the bench for an at-bat or something than have him for two innings, because that leaves me short."
And, of course, it will raise the question of whether Puig's all-out, practically frantic style, will leave him open to injuries, just as Bryce Harper's collision with the Dodger Stadium wall ignited that useless debate back in May.
The answer, probably, is yes, but did you prefer this Dodgers season when it looked as if everybody were playing at 75 percent capacity and they were losing four or five days a week?
Since he came up June 3, Puig has played in every game the Dodgers have had. Considering the Dodgers are off Monday through Thursday next week because of the All-Star break, he could take the next six days off and it might not impact this season one iota.
The fact Puig had a 1.218 OPS before hitting the wall and has a .643 OPS since hitting it would also suggest he's in a little more pain than he was letting on.
You can argue about when he plays, but it seems a bit premature to bicker with how he plays.