A trim Yasiel Puig could tip scales for the Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Do not just think fat-free when it comes to the slimmer silhouette the Los Angeles Dodgers are requesting out of Yasiel Puig.

Of course, the Dodgers would prefer to avoid a chunky Puig, but they also would prefer to not have the muscle–bound version they got at the start of last season.

The Dodgers feel too much muscle is actually a bad thing and believe it attributed to Puig's career-low 79 games played last season. He missed more than a month early on with a left-hamstring injury, then went down in August with not one but two right-hamstring injuries.

“So much of it was never a weight issue in the classic sense; it was just how big, just how strong he had gotten,” said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. “If he’s playing in the NFL every week, it would be great. The fact that there are 162 games in the regular season and then you have the postseason with so few off days, our theory was that it contributed to some of the soft-tissue injuries.”

Last year, Puig was listed at 255 pounds. Where he stands now is anybody’s guess. Those who have seen him on a regular basis said he doesn’t look much different as far as this weight is concerned. He laughed off a question about his weight at Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.

“Our challenge to him was to maintain the strength, get a little bit leaner, put himself in the best position possible to be healthy for 162-plus,” Friedman said.

Last year amounted to a lost season for Puig, who batted just .255 over 311 at-bats with a .436 slugging percentage that was well below his career mark of .487. The Dodgers might have added roster depth this offseason in an effort to protect themselves against injuries, but a productive Puig still figures heavily into the team’s plans.

“We have great guys at every spot and a great team all around,” Puig said Saturday through an interpreter. “We’re just working hard to reach our goal. We’ve gone to the postseason three years in a row now, but that isn’t good enough for us, nor is it good enough for the fan base. We’re looking toward going to the World Series. That’s our mentality going into spring training.”