Puig not starting again but could play

LOS ANGELES -- For a third consecutive game, Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig is out of the starting lineup because of a sprained ligament in his left thumb.

There is a glimpse of good news: Puig, who was available to pinch run the previous two games, probably can pinch hit Wednesday night when the Dodgers face the Detroit Tigers.

Puig has been fitted with a splint on the hand and took batting practice with the team without incident. The training staff watched Puig hit and talked to him between his rounds to make sure he wasn't feeling too much pain and was comfortable with the splint.

"I think I'll have him for more than I had him last night," manager Don Mattingly said before Wednesday's game. "We'll just have to see how it goes."

Puig sprained the ligament Saturday diving into first base but progress has been positive enough that the Dodgers don't see this as a disabled list situation. With another off day Thursday before the team visits the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game series, the hope is Puig can progress enough by at least Saturday -- when the team is scheduled to face left-hander Wade Miley -- since it is probable Andre Ethier would start in right field against Arizona right-hander Brandon McCarthy on Friday.

That would give Puig about a week off while missing only three games.

Puig, reacting to some playful ribbing by teammates, said Tuesday he would be ready to play by Wednesday. But as Mattingly noted minutes later, that decision was left up to the training staff.

There were no signs of discomfort during Puig's batting practice rounds, leading to the conclusion that the Dodgers really want to use Thursday's day off to give Puig more time without rushing him.