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Josh Beckett, Yasiel Puig raise expectations for Dodgers

March 03, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett throws against the San Francisco Giants during an exhibition game.
Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett throws against the San Francisco… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Yasiel Puig is making things a little uncomfortable for the Dodger brass. And Josh Beckett is making life a little more pleasant.

On Sunday both gave what could be previews of coming attractions in a 5-1 Cactus League win over the Cleveland Indians.

The Dodgers entered camp thinking Puig would benefit from some minor league seasoning this summer. But after hitting a pinch-hit three-run home run in the seventh inning, the 22-year-old Cuban may be forcing himself into the conversation regarding replacements for Carl Crawford should Crawford start the season on the disabled list.

"Anything’s possible. But I'm not really going to start going into hypotheticals at this point," Dodger Manager Don Mattingly said. "We’ll see what happens."

Here's what's happened so for: Puig has played in a team-high nine games, hitting .421 and leading the team in runs with five. And if that's good enough to start the season in Los Angeles, Puig says he'll be there. If not, he says he'll keep working wherever he winds up.

"I'm preparing here in spring training to be the best I can be," he said. "I go out every day to do the same thing. And they can see that and do what they want with us.

"Whatever they want to do. I want to get better every day, running the bases, working with ... the coaches to improve whatever they think I have to get better at."

Beckett, meanwhile, turned in his second scoreless outing of the spring, giving up just a hit over three innings, striking out three.

Among the things he was working on Sunday was his changeup, which he used to strike out Cleveland's Juan Diaz with a runner on second to end the second inning.

"This guy knows how to pitch and what he’s doing," Mattingly said of Beckett. "We’re not talking about some guy who’s searching for his identity. He knows how to pitch.

"His stuff may not be the same dominant-type stuff. But again what’s he doing? Making adjustments. His changeup’s getting better. He’ll continue to make adjustments. That’s what pitchers do that really know what they’re doing. They’ll keep changing speeds, they’re changing. Whatever they have to do."

Seven relievers followed Beckett, combining to scatter four hits. Right-hander Juan Abreu closed it out by striking out the side in the ninth.

Third baseman Luis Cruz, who left after the game to join the Mexican team for the World Baseball Classic, had two hits and scored a run, raising his average to .444, while catcher A.J. Ellis was two for two. The Dodgers are hitting .314 as a team.


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