Different kind of spring for Yasiel Puig

MESA, Ariz. -- There are times this spring when it looks as if the game finally has caught up to Yasiel Puig.

A year ago, Puig batted .517 in spring training, nearly forcing himself into the Los Angeles Dodgers' Opening Day plans. They sent him to Double-A Chattanooga to get more seasoning, but Puig barged into the major leagues in early June and helped ignite the Dodgers' run to the playoffs.

Different story this spring. In 33 at-bats, he looks more like the player who struggled in September and all but disappeared in the National League Championship Series. Puig is batting .152 without a home run. He has five strikeouts and one walk.

Thursday, Puig opted to play in a minor-league intrasquad game to get extra at-bats, going 4-for-10 with a home run against young Dodgers pitchers. But he got back into the Cactus League lineup Friday and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout off the Chicago Cubs' Kyle Hendricks.

He has appeared lost at the plate in recent games. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says he isn't concerned with Puig's struggles yet, because the young right fielder is continuing to try to work his way out of them.

Few of the Dodgers' regulars are hitting this spring. The team is batting .236 collectively, but Puig's struggles could be more indicative of the season to come since he is entering his first full campaign. Mattingly chuckled when he was asked if he's concerned about Puig's confidence.

"I think Yasiel's different. I think he's a confident kid," Mattingly said. "This is a totally different spring for him from the standpoint of he kind of established himself. You want everyone to be swinging good, but it doesn't happen that often."

The pitching pattern on Puig has been fairly consistent. Teams look to throw fastballs inside and off-speed pitches away. When he is able to hold back on pitches off the plate, he has better success, but that's easier said than done.

"It's back to the 'you are what you eat,' " Mattingly said. "If you get strikes, you have a better chance."