Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig prepares for his first at-bat against… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
The same explosive, high-energy style of play that turned Yasiel Puig into an overnight sensation could be starting to betray him.
Puig made a fifth-inning departure from the Dodgers' 3-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Friday night, his second early exit in as many days.
The Dodgers described Puig's removal as “precautionary,” but acknowledged it was related to the left hip he injured in a collision with the outfield wall in Colorado on July 3.
“I feel a lot better, but there are a lot of games left in the season,” Puig said.
BOX SCORE: Rockies 3, Dodgers 0
Puig was uncertain whether he would be able to play today.
Less than two weeks ago, Manager Don Mattingly was wondering how he would find enough playing time for four All-Star-caliber outfielders. By the end of Friday's game, Mattingly's outfield was made up of Andre Ethier, recent call-up Scott Van Slyke and utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. Carl Crawford was a late scratch with stiffness in his lower back. Matt Kemp is on the disabled list for the second time. Now Puig is aching.
Mattingly has said he knew something like this was bound to happen; he was warned by the Dodgers' player development staff that Puig's all-out, all-the-time approach would one day lead to an injury.
Whatever the long-term consequences, Puig doesn't intend to change.
“I haven't thought of that,” he said. “That's how I play.”
In the six weeks since Puig was called up from double-A Chattanooga (Tenn.), he has lived up to his reputation. He has semi-regularly attempted to stretch routine singles into doubles. He has run down every line drive at maximum effort. And, until this game, he had turned almost every groundout into a close call at first base.
Friday night, Puig grounded out twice.
The first time, in the first inning, he sprinted halfway to first before slowing. The second time, in the third inning, he jogged up the line as if he were 52, not 22.
Puig was taken out of the game in the top of the fifth inning. Van Slyke replaced him in right field.
Mattingly said Puig and the Dodgers have to communicate better.
“If you're banged up and can't play, you can't play,” Mattingly said.
Whether it was the missing players or fatigue from a recent nine-game trip, the Dodgers looked like the early-season version of themselves, managing only four hits in only their fourth loss in the last 20 games. In their 10 previous games this month, they had 10 or more hits eight times.
Clayton Kershaw pitched well enough to win, but, as has been the case several times this season, lost. The defeat ended a three-start winning streak for Kershaw, who has a 1.98 earned-run average but only an 8-6 record.
Kershaw limited the Rockies to three runs in seven innings, but Rockies starter Juan Nicasio was better, holding baseball's hottest-hitting team to three hits in seven innings.
The Dodgers' deficit to first-place Arizona increased to 2 1/2 games.