LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig was back in the starting lineup during the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-2 win Sunday afternoon, a day after sitting out against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks with a stomach virus. He had to scan further down the batting order to find his name, however.
Puig, who has eight hits in his last 65 plate appearances, hit seventh against the Diamondbacks in the series finale, his lowest spot as a starter since making his debut with the Dodgers 15 months ago. Puig went 0-for-2 with a walk.
"Yas is probably hitting where he should be hitting right now," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before the game. "I think it's a place where you're not putting extra pressure on him."
Puig has batted mostly second or third this season, hitting .308 in 295 at-bats in the No. 2 spot and .289 in 121 at-bats in the No. 3 hole. But on the most recent road trip his average dipped under .300 for the first time since April 30 and entered Sunday's game hitting .295.
"Who do you want the extra at-bat going to?" Mattingly said of his decision to move Puig further down in the order. "Right now, that's not necessarily Yasiel."
Mattingly wasn't ready to discuss any mechanical problems that may have developed with Puig's swing, but said patience at the plate is one area he can improve.
"You really have to come up with the mentality that you have to swing at strikes," Mattingly said. "Patience for me doesn't mean you're trying to walk, you're just trying to get a good pitch to hit. You're not in a hurry to get the at-bat over with."
Mattingly still hopes shortstop Hanley Ramirez will emerge from his season-long slump and carry the top of the order through the last month of the regular season and into the playoffs. Ramirez came in hitting .264, well off his career mark of .299.
"If we're going to be lucky enough to get into the postseason and do something, we're going to need Hanley to do what he does," Mattingly said. "Hanley has proven over the years that he's a batting title-type guy, he's an MVP-type guy. His mechanics are set up, and his abilities, that he can hit good pitching, and so that's what we're hoping to get back to."