Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and outfielder Yasiel Puig continue to build their relationship with one another, after some controversial comments were made by Mattingly during the Australia trip.
Puig went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in Sunday’s 7-5 win against the Diamondbacks. After a ninth inning strike out, Puig left the game and headed to the locker room.
Mattingly told reporters after the Dodgers victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, about Puig’s status with the team.
“I guess his back. Shoulder yesterday, back today, so I’m not sure if they’re going to get him tests or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do. We may not do anything.”
Of course cooler heads prevailed and after a conversation with Puig, Mattingly said “We’re good. I’ve got no issues with Yasiel.” Both met with each other on Tuesday to iron everything out
Mattingly went on to say, “I know Yasiel is a huge lightning rod, and anything I say is a huge story and anything he does is a huge story. Maybe I should have been more clear — the before and after were two different things.“
After returning to Los Angeles, Puig received an MRI on his lower back that showed no damage, however did receive treatment. He’s expected to be ready and playing in the season opener against the San Diego Padres on March 30th.
Puig is still learning the system, but is a huge talent that will continue to improve over time.
Dodgers starter Hyun Jin Ryu could miss his next start against the Padres due to a torn toenail that he suffered in Australia. Ryu make a sudden and quick stop at third base against the Diamondback, where the injury occurred.
Mattingly said that they will make an official ruling on Ryu’s status closer to his start day.
Zack Greinke is not exactly enthusiastic about pitching down under this coming March.
“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it,” Greinke told ESPNLA.com. “There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”
With the team already focused on shortening Clayton Kershaw’s workload, now they must also focus on lightening up the load for Greinke. He is their number two starting pitcher, and the season beginning early could throw off his rhythm slightly.
The Australian games are to be played on March 22 and 23, and the Dodgers leave camp approximately a week early from the Camelback Ranch facility.
Greinke is not stubborn enough to rule out the possibility that he’ll play in the two games, “it’s a baseball thing. It’s an ownership thing, spreading stuff around.”
With Kershaw pitchng 259 innings last season including the playoff, the team can’t afford to burn out their number starter either. Which leaves the opportunity for starters Dan Haren, Hyun Jin Ryu and whoever the Dodgers select as their fifth starter to showcase their work.
With the new schedule the Dodgers now play approximately 15 less games in the Spring, which allows 2 starts less for pitchers to fine tune and get ready for the coming season.
“Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told ESPN.com. “He’s famously focused and meticulous about his training regimen. It’s what makes him so good and such a great teammate. This is clearly going to alter his routine. I understand that aspect of it.”
However that was overshadowed by a bench clearing brawl that ensued after Greinke was deliberately hit at that plate by a pitch thrown from Kennedy.
Kennedy retaliated on Greinke, after Greinke hit Miguel Montero in the right side of his back. That drew a warning to both teams from the umpire, even as both teams spilled out onto the field.
That clearly stemmed from an early incident in the sixth inning, when Kennedy hit Puig with a pitch that grazed his nose.
“Puig gets hit in the face, Montero gets hit, it should have been really over at this point,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
During the brawl in the seventh inning punches were thrown, Puig had to be restrained by teammates, and order somehow had to be restored by the umpires.
At the end of it all, Diamondbacks manager and former Dodger Kirk Gibson, pitcher Ian Kennedy, coach Turner Ward along with Yasiel Puig, Ronald Belisario (who began throwing punches at various Arizona players), and hitting coach Mark McGwire were all ejected.
“I know they’re mad. They thought we hit Puig, but certainly we didn’t! The guy hits everything out over the plate. But the ball got away from Ian and got inside. It’s as simple as that. I didn’t order anything. It’s certainly not what Ian wanted to do,” said Kirk Gibson.
With the game tied 2-2 thanks to an Andre Either two run homer in the sixth inning, it was finally time for baseball to resume.
Diamondbacks Willie Bloomquist connected on an RBI single that scored AJ Pollock and gave the Arizona the 3-2 lead in the top of the eight inning.
The Dodgers responded in the bottom of the eight inning, Tim Federowicz hit a bases loaded double that scored Adrian Gonzalez, Ethier, and Juan Uribe for the 5-3 lead.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning and picked up his third save that secured the Dodger victory.
Matt Guerrier (2-2) picked up the win, gave up one hit with one strike out.
Arizona’s David Hernandez (2-3) acquired the loss and gave up three runs.