Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Puig-In-Center-Field Thing May Have Legs

We saw Yasiel Puig start in center for the first time this year, and it looks like this move, unlike other Dodgers before Puig who have not fared well in center, might have some legs (get it?!):

After moving Matt Kemp out of the position in May because they were unsatisfied with his defense, and tiring of the lack of speed from the next two players they tried there, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke, the Dodgers have decided to make Yasiel Puig their center fielder.

Puig returned from a hand injury and started in center for Friday night's opener of a crucial three-game series against the San Francisco Giants. He had only four chances in center. Three of them were routine, but he ran down a Buster Posey warning-track drive to left-center in the ninth that might have eluded the Dodgers' other center-field candidates.

He also tied a franchise record with three triples and added a double and two RBIs as the Dodgers moved within a half-game of National League West-leading San Francisco by beating the Giants 8-1. The last player with three triples in a game was Denard Span for Minnesota in 2010.

"I just want to be on the field helping my team win," Puig said after the game. "Whatever position they ask me to play, I'm going to do my best. I do prefer center field a little bit, because I can run more."

Three days earlier, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he hadn't tried Puig in center yet because he plays "out of control most of the time" and "he scares the other outfielders."

Mattingly said he and the coaches sat down with Puig on Friday and stressed the importance of communicating with the other outfielders. Puig started six games in center last year but hadn't started there all season until Friday.

"We feel, with our combination of guys, this may be our best chance in center field," Mattingly said. "It could be a day, it could be a week, it could be forever -- or as long as he plays. We don't really know, but we know he's physically capable of handling the spot."

Article goes on to say that Matt Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, continues to be a salty dog about Kemp in right. Enough yapping, Dave.