After missing the last 39 games, Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig returned to the lineup Saturday, one day after playing in a second rehab assignment game with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Puig batted third in a lineup that featured plenty of bench players as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly gave several regulars a night of rest.
Having played on 11 games this season heading into Saturday, Puig was happy with being out on the field. “It felt great,” he said. While he only had one hit — albeit a key one as it was a go-ahead RBI double — Puig said he was able to run without issue, “I only had one chance to run the bases obviously, but my baserunning felt great.”
After striking out in his first two at-bats, Puig was looking for a pitch he could handle when he knocked the seventh-inning double. “I was waiting for a pitch to get a little bit higher,” he said. “He [Jaime Garcia] seemed to be throwing low and the umpire was calling a lot of balls there, so just was able to get a pitch higher that I was looking for, and I was able to hit that double.”
Puig’s return was certainly welcomed by the Dodgers, with A.J. Ellis and Clayton Kershaw both mentioning the power threat he poses from the right side of the plate, which gives the Dodgers a one-two punch with Adrian Gonzalez.
That certainly can evolve into a dangerous trio once Howie Kendrick returns from a minor knee issue that’s kept him out of the last three games heading into Sunday. Although Puig hit third in the lineup in his first game off the disabled list, Mattingly said prior to Saturday’s game he envisions the right fielder batting second or fifth once the Dodgers have their full complement of players.
As for the long wait to fully recover from the strained left hamstring, which included a setback during his first rehab assignment with the Quakes, Puig wasn’t frustrated by the process. “It was just a matter of me being 100 percent to be able to get back,” he said.
“While I was out my teammates were playing really well, and all I needed to do was be patient and for them to let me know that I was ready to come back.” After helping the Dodgers snap a three-game losing streak, Puig now looks to prevent the team from losing a home series for the first time since August 2014.