Manager Dave Roberts gives Yasiel Puig the night off ‘to clear his mind’

first_imgYasiel Puig started the season on a tear, batting .405 over the Dodgers’ first 10 games.It didn’t last. Since then, he has hit .137, with only one hit coming in his past 18 at-bats. His average has sunk to .250.Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opted to give the slumping Puig the day off on Saturday night for the second game of their three-game weekend series against the San Diego Padres.Roberts said he hoped that it might allow Puig “to clear his mind.” The manager texted him the previous night to tip him off. In Puig’s place, Kiké Hernandez was in the lineup in right field. Roberts felt a mental break could help Kendrick, as well.“There’s a fine line, because you want to give guys at-bats to play, but also sometimes to kind of take a step back from performing night-in-and-night-out can be beneficial,” Roberts said.Recovery continuesPitchers Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu threw bullpen sessions Saturday, the latest steps in their respective recoveries.Roberts said he saw “good stuff” from both. They each mixed pitches.McCarthy, who threw 50-60 pitches, is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Ryu, who had approximately 45, is coming off shoulder surgeries that shelved him for all of last season.“When you start talking about them facing hitters, it does make it more tangible and exciting,” Roberts said. “You try not to get too far ahead of yourself, but to see these guys on mounds, talking to hitters, things like that, it’s something to look forward to.”Ryu will throw another bullpen before facing live hitters. The left-hander has been targeting a return in June.McCarthy’s target date is by the All-Star break.AlsoThe Dodgers will shuffle the order of their starting rotation during their five-game trip this week. Rather than starting Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, Kenta Maeda will take the mound Friday, with Alex Wood to take Maeda’s place. “This is more specific to matchups,” Roberts said, pointing to using Maeda, a right-hander, against the Toronto Blue Jays, who feature several right-handed batters in the heart of their order. The club was given flexibility with a travel day on Monday. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Asked about Puig’s slump, Roberts ruled out fatigue as a factor, pointing out that Puig already had two days off earlier this month, on April 16 against San Francisco and April 21 at Atlanta. Trayce Thompson replaced him in those games.“I think he’s just trying to do a little bit too much,” Roberts said. “Sometimes, if you can kind of get a day off, the pressure or whatever it is to perform for that night, get away from that for a day, sometimes it helps.”As Puig has faced trouble at the plate, he has often struggled to make contact. In his past 13 games, he struck out 15 times, a rate of 29 percent. In the first 10 games, he struck out six times, or 16 percent of his at-bats.Earlier this week, Roberts said Puig was swinging at too many pitches outside the zone, especially at breaking balls that were falling toward the dirt.Second baseman Howie Kendrick, riding an 0-for-13 slump, saw his second consecutive day off. Kendrick, who was slowed in spring training because of a groin injury, is hitting .151 this season.last_img

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