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Yasiel Puig back in Dodgers' starting lineup, no harm, no foul

After Wednesday's benching, he skips early batting practice Friday, which Manager Don Mattingly says is fine. 'I just want him to play the game right.'

August 30, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti says rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig has "made a lot of progress" in becoming a more well-rounded player.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti says rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The Dodgers took early batting practice Friday, before their first game since the Benching Heard 'Round the World.

Yasiel Puig, unceremoniously yanked from Wednesday's game by Manager Don Mattingly, was not among the players who chose to participate in early batting practice.

Mattingly said Puig had prepared in his own way and did not need to take early batting to prove he had learned from Wednesday's benching.

"It's just show," Mattingly said. "I just want him to play the game right. I don't want anybody thinking Yasiel is a bad guy.

"We still have to be patient. We just have to keep reaching."

As Mattingly had promised, Puig was back in the starting lineup Friday. Although the repetition of Puig's mistakes has made some of the Dodgers players uneasy, Mattingly said no player had asked him to discipline Puig on Wednesday. In a separate interview, General Manager Ned Colletti said he had heard "zero" complaints from players about any discomfort with Puig's play.

Although Mattingly and Colletti met with Puig on Wednesday — after which Puig acknowledged he had "not prepared properly for some pitches" — the manager and general manager were eager to move on. Colletti repeatedly cited Puig's youth and limited exposure to professional baseball in the United States. The Cuban defector is 22, in his first full season in the U.S.

"Everybody knows what you're supposed to do," Colletti said. "I've seen guys in Cooperstown that miss a cutoff man. I've seen guys in Cooperstown that swing at a slider outside the strike zone. I've seen guys in Cooperstown that overthrow a base and get caught stealing.

"I think he's made a lot of progress. Everybody expects everybody to be a complete product right out of the gate. I think that's impossible for anybody. That he's been able to adjust as much as he has in a short period of time, I think it's good."

Mattingly said he considered Wednesday's incident closed but stopped himself from saying there were no issues with Puig.

"I shouldn't say there are no issues," Mattingly said. "There are issues with everybody. I don't have any problems with him being receptive."

Volquez in blue

How limited is the pool of available pitching in the major leagues?

Edinson Volquez is 9-10 with a 6.01 earned-run average, the highest of any qualifying major league starting pitcher. After the San Diego Padres released him this week, Volquez said he had offers to join the Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and a "couple more" teams.

Some of those teams wanted him to go to the minor leagues first. He signed with the Dodgers, who put him in their major league bullpen for now. Volquez might well crack the starting rotation in September, as an alternative to Chris Capuano in the fifth spot and as a way to get the top four starters — Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco — extra rest as the playoffs approach.

Colletti said he had been unable to find additional pitching available in trade before signing Volquez.

"He adds to our staff depth," Colletti said. "We had an opportunity to pick up a veteran with no prospect cost."

The Dodgers cleared a roster spot for Volquez by sending reliever Chris Withrow to triple-A Albuquerque. Withrow will return as rosters expand in September. He would be eligible for the Dodgers' playoff roster because he is in the organization as of Aug. 31.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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