The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently mired in a 31-inning scoreless drought, have lost Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu to season-ending injuries, yet remain at the top of the National League West standings.
Moreover, the Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals are the only two NL teams with at least a .600 winning percentage heading into play Friday. The Dodgers have also been without Yasiel Puig, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 26 with left hamstring strain.
Puig aggravated the injury during a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, was sent for another MRI and shut down. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Puig’s absence from the lineup may soon be coming to an end:
Puig said to be feeling much better. May not be that much longer. #dodgers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) May 22, 2015
Puig managed to appear in only two rehab games with the Quakes and went 1-for-7 with a solo home run before coming up lame on an attempt to beat out a high chopper. One night prior, he said the strained hamstring felt fine and suggested he’d return to the Dodgers within the next few days.
Prior to being placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career, Puig was batting .279/.380/.465 with two home runs and four RBIs over 11 games. The balky hamstring forced Puig to miss three consecutive games and four-of-five before he landed on the DL.
After Puig underwent the MRI on May 11 Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated the 24-year-old outfielder would miss at least the next two weeks. The fifth-year manager has maintained a low-level of concern throughout the process and his latest update on Puig (May 15) was the Cuban native had yet to resume baseball activities.
Without Puig in the lineup Andre Ethier has filled the void in right field and done so admirably — his part in the Dodgers’ latest offensive drought not withstanding. Starting in 27 of 37 games played this season, Ethier is hitting .304/.405/.529 with five home runs and 14 RBIs. Last season he hit four home runs and collected 42 RBIs in 130 games.
While Heyman suggests Puig is nearing a return to the Dodgers, another rehab assignment presumably would first need to be completed. The club is also more likely to err on the side of caution in terms of how quickly Puig advances through the various stages of his rehab.
That being said, Puig’s return would certainly be welcomed as Mattingly conceivably could then move Jimmy Rollins out of the two hole, where the veteran shortstop has struggled.