When it was revealed Yasiel Puig wasn’t in Saturday’s lineup for the second time in the last four games, the initial belief many held was it was in response to his ongoing slump. However, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly stated the reason behind Puig’s absence was illness.
Puig returned to the lineup Sunday and bat seventh for the first time in his career. The struggling center fielder went 0-for-2 with a walk before being removed in the seventh inning. Since hitting .398 in May, Puig’s monthly batting average has dropped each time the calendar turned.
He’s currently batting a season-worst .293 and a lowly .176 in the last seven days. When discussing Puig’s slump, Mattingly said Puig needs to have patience that extends beyond trying to draw a walk, via J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:
I think you have to come up with the mentality that you swing at strikes. Patience, for me, doesn’t mean you’re trying to walk. It just means your’e getting yourself a good pitch to hit. That’s to me, what that is: Not in a hurry to get the at-bat over.”
Hitting coach Mark McGwire has shared a similar belief when addressing Puig’s tendencies at the plate and said the second-year player tends to get out of himself. While Puig hasn’t hit particularly well, the walk Sunday gave him one in the last four games he’s played in.
Mattingly attempted to help jumpstart Puig at the plate by moving him around in the batting order and letting him hit leadoff Aug. 31 against the San Diego Padres. It was a game the Dodgers won, however Puig was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
Sunday was the first indication Mattingly was no longer as willing to sit by and attempt to let Puig sort through his troubles during the game. Mattingly has remained with Hanley Ramirez in the two spot, which is where Puig hit earlier in the season, and said he was hopeful the shortstop would benefit from the extra at-bats.
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