Despite a surplus of outfielders this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have had trouble solidifying the center field defensively.
Matt Kemp began the year in center before being moved to left because of issues in the field. Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke are currently splitting duties at the position, but neither are known for their speed or defensive prowess. This prompted Don Mattingly to consider changing his stance of keeping Yasiel Puig in right field, saying that they would consider moving him to center soon.
Mattingly went on ESPN LA Now with Mark Willard on Wednesday and discussed moving Puig to center before giving his take on the future of the position:
And we also know we got Joc Pederson down in Triple-A, who we think is probably the best center fielder in our organization. He’s just not here at this point. So at some point he’s probably gonna end up being in center field. At least get a shot out there.”
Whether that shot will come this season remains to be seen because the Dodger manager has also made it clear that Pederson would only be promoted if there was an everyday role for him. Should the Dodgers trade one or more of their outfielders before the July 31 trade deadline, then a spot for Pederson could emerge. The 22-year-old prospect has been tearing things up in Triple-A this season and has even provided some highlight-worthy defense in center field.
It was a strong statement for Mattingly to praise such a young player like that considering that Kemp still believes he can be a center fielder and the unknown entity that is Puig in center field. This proves that the team is high on Pederson and could prompt them to push a bit harder in an attempt to clear the outfield logjam.
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