It’s been a tough season for Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig.
Not only did the former All-Star miss over a month of games due to a strained hamstring, but Puig has not been able to find his swing this year, resulting in his worst season in the Majors thus far. The outfielder with the rocket arm is hitting just .242 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 63 games after Saturday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s hitting under .200 in his last 20 games and his frustration has been visible at times.
According to JP Hoornstra of the LA Daily News, manager Don Mattingly is seeing some improvement from his 24-year-old right fielder:
I think he’s been swinging the bat better, for sure,” Mattingly said Saturday afternoon.
Mattingly then expanded on what Puig has been working on in order to turn his season around:
We’re trying to get him straightened back up,” Mattingly said of the adjustment that should help Puig track pitches as well as his plate coverage. “He’s just got a little bit twisted, too turned in. I think we’ve made some progress — to his credit because he’s the one who has to do the work.”
The Cuban-born outfielder has gone through slumps in his short career, but never to this degree. He hit a combined .305 with an OPS of .888 in his first two seasons. Despite his issues at the plate, Puig has continued to be a strong defensive outfielder and has even improved in hitting the cut-off man.
Mattingly, a career .307 hitter in 14 seasons, knows the ups and downs associated with the game and knows the adjustments might not always be beneficial:
It could have been anything. It’s a feel up there that you’re searching for. Sometimes every change you make just gets you in more trouble. … I wish it were that simple. You put a screw on it, turn it a little. ‘Okay, now you’re straight. Now you’re hitting.'”
The Dodgers will need Puig to improve if they plan to take home a third straight NL West title and make a deeper playoff run.