PITTSBURGH -- Yasiel Puig has been dealing lately with a new challenge in his young career: part-time status.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to mix Carl Crawford back into the outfield mix and Puig has, so far, been the odd man out on those occasions. Puig, who played 148 games last year, has been out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup in three of the last seven games. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he pulled Puig aside to explain the situation to him before Sunday night’s game at PNC Park.
Mattingly said Puig’s absence from Sunday’s lineup has more to do with the fact that the starting pitcher, Charlie Morton, is holding right-handed batters to a .226 batting average than with Puig’s struggles, but those, undoubtedly, are part of the story as well. Puig is hitting .185 and has a .591 OPS since July 1. His OPS this season is more than 130 points lower than it was last season (.863), which was down appreciably from 2013.
“I just let him know that he’s not just going to automatically be out of there against righties. He’s going to be in there, it’s just occasional days off,” Mattingly said. “I know a couple have come here recently as we want to mix Carl back in.
“He seemed to be OK with it. He didn’t look like he was ready to hit me or anything,” Mattingly joked.
Brett Anderson, who will start Monday night’s game, flew ahead of the team Sunday afternoon. The Dodgers aren’t expected to touch down at LAX until around 4 a.m. Monday. This game, originally scheduled for 12:35 p.m. ET, was selected for “Sunday Night Baseball” a few weeks ago and now will start at 8:08 p.m. ET.
“It’s just part of what we do,” Mattingly said. “It’s not worth talking about. We’ve talked as a team. You get everybody moaning about it and starting to feel sorry for themselves like, ‘Oh, I’m tired.’ After the game’s over, you’re going to win or lose. Nobody’s going to remember that you got in at 3 or 4 in the morning.”