After splitting the first two of a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Clayton Kershaw did his part from the mound as A.J. Ellis and Jimmy Rollins powered the Los Angeles Dodgers to a win Wednesday night.
The win put Los Angeles in position to take the series from the team with the worst record in baseball. While Zack Greinke went on to extend his scoreless streak by throwing eight shutout innings in another Dodgers win, the work of two of his teammates garnered a fair amount of attention.
Shortly after 3 p.m. PT, well in advance to scheduled batting practice for the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig was out on the field for an early BP session under the watchful eye of hitting coach Mark McGwire:
According to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News Group, McGwire said the focus was on getting Puig to use the lower half of his body:
Just for him to understand that he’s really not using his legs as much as God gave him,” McGwire said. “There’s a little bit of drift going, and when you drift your hands are a little bit behind you. The major source of strength is built from the ground up. The more stable you are, the shorter you are to the ball, it’s because of using your legs. The emphasis was on him really trying to drive that back knee down to the ground, to allow his hands to be free. He’s done it. He’s gotten away from it. It’s reinforcement.”
“The fact taht he got out and did some early work is good for him,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after his club’s shutout win. “It paid off today.” Puig has been mired in a slump over the last 10 games, batting just .179/.289/.256 with only three extra-base hits.
While one game doesn’t necessarily signal the end of a slump, Puig’s extra work paid dividends as he went 2-for-4 Thursday with four RBIs on a two-run double and two-run home run. He wasn’t alone in reporting early as Alex Guerrero fielded grounders at second base.
It’s of course the position the Dodgers envisioned Guerrero taking the reins at last season before Dee Gordon ran away with the competition. Guerrero also got extra work at third base, where he last started May 24. Since serving as a third baseman/left fielder utility man early in the season, he’s primarily been relegated to pinch-hit duty.
Perhaps in correlation to the inconsistent playing time, Guerrero’s bat has cooled considerably and he’s now hitting .250/.275/.507, including .167/.167/167 in 36 plate appearances over the last 28 days.