<
>

Can Puig help the Dodgers break into a jog?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Asked about how people should read into the fact that uber-prospect Yasiel Puig played center field Thursday for one of the few times this season in a Double-A game right when the Los Angeles Dodgers need a center fielder, Don Mattingly smiled.

"Whatever you want," Mattingly said. "It's fun doing that anyway. You can imagine what he might be doing tonight or whatever."

It appears to be down to Puig or former big leaguer Tony Gwynn Jr., who has been playing at Triple-A Albuquerque, for the race to take Matt Kemp's spot while he's on the 15-day disabled list. According to a source, the Dodgers are not considering the other hot outfield prospect at Double-A Chattanooga, Joc Pederson.

So, perhaps the Dodgers are about to get the jolt of energy a young, vibrant player can provide. Puig batted .517 in spring training and is hitting .322 at Chattanooga.

But even if the team opts for the more conservative choice, Gwynn -- a strong fielder with limited offensive impact -- they're set up for a promising weekend in Colorado. Their three best starters, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are all going against a Colorado team that has cooled off quite a bit since a hot start.

The Dodgers are 17-10 in games started by their top three and 5-20 in games started by anyone else, including Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels with Ted Lilly on the mound.

And, yeah, the Dodgers have been feeling more energy since Mattingly's stern words in Milwaukee about a week ago.

Add it all up and ... who knows, maybe a step or two of momentum, finally? Have you heard that one before this season?

"You say that daily," Mattingly said. "It's a good place to start. Today was a good place, yesterday was a good place, we'd won two in a row. ... Every day is a chance for us to sustain it, get going and put wins together."

Every day is a chance, and these are as good as any others. Let enough of them pass, though, and they add up to a wasted season.