Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig slides safely into second base with a steal… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)
So the Dodgers played Thursday without a true center fielder. Andre Ethier was the fill-in player, which is swell for a day.
But with Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right hamstring, the Dodgers need to call up an everyday center fielder. Manager Don Mattingly has acknowledged he has no such animal on the club not named Kemp.
He also said before Thursday’s game that they were expecting to find their man from triple-A Albuquerque and not double-A Chattanooga.
Which is a mistake.
There is no one at triple-A with whom the Dodgers are not already familiar. Tony Gwynn Jr., Elian Herrera and Matt Angle are all nice enough, but are limited offensively. They are unlikely to come in over the next two weeks and have an impact.
And the Dodgers could use some impact, or at least a spark. Someone to generate offense and energy.
The only two possibilities are at Chattanooga in Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig.
Call up either one, just call one of them. Both are playing well. And if you really feel Puig needs more time, fine, make it Pederson. He is reportedly an excellent center fielder and he’s hitting .313 with a .393 on-base percentage and 15 steals.
Mattingly said those guys are still at the developmental level, which is true. But it’s not like there’s never been a position player who’s made the jump from double-A to the majors. And it’s not a lifetime commitment, it's 14 days.
“You end up hurting those guys sometimes,” Mattingly said.
Hey, if it doesn’t go well, pretty sure they can rationalize the difficulty of making the jump from double-A to the majors and go back down without having their psyche permanently damaged.
The talented Puig is their most exciting prospect, and the Cuban was a sensation during spring training. But he’s also only starting his first full season in the minors and has not played a lot of center.
Mattingly, though, did use him there some this spring.
“It was pretty much what we’ve been saying, he just kind of needed polish,” Mattingly said. “Some of the things you worry about with communication and things like that. Kind of the baseball part of it, where you’re not going to go steamrolling Carl [Crawford]. Just things like. Throwing the ball to the cut-off spot.”
Apparently he hasn’t killed anyone at Chattanooga yet. And if he comes with some drawbacks, there is this: After a brief slump, Puig leads the Lookouts with a .322 batting average and 37 RBIs, and is tied with Pederson with eight homers.
The Dodgers need a player, not just some nice defense from a guy in triple-A. The idea is to win at the major league level. So call up Pederson or Puig and see what happens. Go with the upside, not just the defense.