LOS ANGELES >> Dodgers manager Dave Roberts assured reporters that Yasiel Puig’s ankle was not keeping the right fielder out of Sunday’s lineup.
Puig was caught stealing second base to end Saturday night’s game, a 2-1 loss. Afterward, Puig said through an interpreter that he felt pain in his ankle the moment he was set to slide. He went into the base standing up instead and was tagged out. Roberts called Puig’s actions inexplicable and a “bad baseball play.”
Sunday morning, Roberts said that Puig did not receive treatment on his ankle after the game. So why was Curtis Granderson in right field and batting cleanup?
“When I put a player in the lineup, every situation, every pitch, every out is important,” Roberts said. “And it’s important that the guys I write in the lineup, I can trust ’em. So that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Puig has earned praise from teammates and coaches for his discipline throughout this season in contrast to years past. While he was praised early and often for his on-field talents, Puig spent much of his first five years in the United States answering to teammates, coaches and executives who have questioned his discipline.
The tipping point came last August, when the Dodgers sent Puig to the minor leagues rather than trade him at the non-waiver deadline. This year, he hasn’t been dogged by the same questions about his physical fitness, tardiness, or commitment. Puig, 26, is batting .259 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage, mostly out of the eighth spot in the batting order. His next game will be his 148th, matching a career high.
Despite apparent improvements in his fitness, attitude, and hitting, Roberts hinted that Puig smirched his record in some regards this year even before Saturday’s non-slide.
“There’s been some things that, when you look back, I’ve kept notes of,” the manager said. “You have to have trust in all your players.”
Puig was available to reporters in the clubhouse Sunday morning, but the lineup was not.
When he met with reporters about two hours prior to Sunday’s first pitch, Roberts said he had not spoken with Puig since the final out Saturday. Perhaps the lineup card was a message in and of itself.
“Whatever message he gets from it, I’m putting the guys out there that give us the best chance to win today,” Roberts said.
Ryu might miss start
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s next start is in jeopardy because of a contusion on his left forearm. Ryu, whom Roberts scheduled to start Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies, left Saturday’s game after he was struck by a line drive in the third inning. X-rays on his arm were negative.
“We’ll see how he responds to treatment,” Roberts said.
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who pitched three innings in relief of Ryu, might make Friday’s start instead.
Gonzalez returning soon
Adrian Gonzalez will be in the starting lineup Tuesday in San Diego, Roberts said.
Gonzalez hasn’t started a game since Sept. 11, after which he received an epidural injection in his back. The veteran first baseman is attempting to make the postseason roster while managing the effects of a herniated disk in his back.
Gonzalez, 35, is batting .239 this season. He’s hitless in his last 10 plate appearances – the last four off the bench.
To stand or to kneel
One day after Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during a pregame rendition of the national anthem, all Dodgers and Giants players on the field stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Dodger Stadium.
Before the game, Roberts was asked if he would have a problem if a player chose to kneel during the anthem.
“Personally, yeah, I’d have a problem,” he said, “because my father served this country for 30 years and I understand – I can appreciate any player’s individual, however they act, and that’s personal. But I would just ask every person to really be educated. When you make a point, something like that – and it’s been in baseball. It’s been in sports. But the thing is, really think long and hard, and really be educated on why you’re doing what you’re doing. After that it’s each individual player’s decision.”
Waymon Roberts, who passed away in March, served in the Marines for 30 years and retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant.