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Yasiel Puig may force Dodgers to reconsider patience plan

March 11, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig hits a three-run home run against the Indians on March 3.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig hits a three-run home run against the Indians… (Mark Duncan / Associated…)

Everyone understands the logic. Can’t really argue with it.

Yasiel Puig needs some serious seasoning. As enormously talented as he appears, he is a player with a total of 82 at-bats at the minors’ lower levels. He screams for polish. Manager Don Mattingly calls him “raw.”

All very good. All indisputable. And yet … if the 22-year-old Puig continues to sting the ball and Carl Crawford is not ready to go by opening day, the Dodgers are going to have to consider playing him on April 1.

That seems ridiculous, I know. It’s the middle of March. His situation demands perspective. The Cuban defector is as green as a player can be.

Yet while everyone has nodded heads in approval while waiting for his lack of experience to show, all he has done is continue to crush the ball.

The five-tool Puig had two more hits Monday in the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, raising his season average to .452.

Of the Dodgers getting regular looks this spring, that gives him the second-highest batting average and RBI total (seven) on the team, and he’s tied for most runs (seven).

He clearly needs to play regularly, which is why the Dodgers hadn’t even considered using him as the fourth outfielder. But if Crawford can’t go and Puig can start? At this rate, it could be a worthy gamble.

It’s not like he would be placed in the middle of the lineup and expected to carry the team. The lineup is loaded, which would actually be a great way for him to break in.

It still sounds a tad ludicrous, but if he keeps this up and Crawford can’t start the season, Puig could force the Dodgers to change their short-term plans. His potential is exciting, which was sort of the idea when they signed him to a $42-million deal.

Otherwise Monday, the Dodgers’ game against the Brewers was fairly uneventful. With Zack Greinke scratched with a sore elbow, Hyun-Jin Ryu started and went 4 2/3 innings. He pitched fairly well, aside from a stumble in the fourth when he gave up three runs on three hits, two walks and a wild pitch.

The Ellis boys, Mark and A.J., each had a double in their two hits.

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