Since infusing the Los Angeles Dodgers with a fresh energy and needed spark in June 2013, Yasiel Puig has been more of an enigma than productive talent. He was named an All-Star in 2014, but struggled to remain healthy over the past two seasons.
While Puig didn’t battle nearly as much hamstring trouble last year than in 2015, he was inconsistent at the plate. The Dodgers aggressively shopped Puig, and when they were unable to move him prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, the team demoted Puig to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
He returned for the final month of the regular season, vowing to have learned and grown from the experience. The Dodgers appear committed to providing Puig with another opportunity to recapture his old form.
However, some of the same struggles in the hitting department has him recently batting in the bottom of the Dodgers lineup. Manager Dave Roberts explained that’s a byproduct of Puig’s current state, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“I don’t see him in the middle of the order,” Roberts said. “That can change with production.”
Puig hit eighth in each of the first two Freeway Series games, and went a combined 0-for-6 with one walk and three strikeouts. In addition to walking in Friday’s win, he reached via error.
Roberts recently noted the need for Puig to improve his swing mechanics. The 26-year-old was scratched from the lineup one week ago because he went through additional hitting, after a morning workout at Camelback Ranch.
More recently, Puig was participated in a Minor League game at the Dodgers’ Spring Training complex in effort to continue working on his swing. Sensing Puig was in need of a jolt in order to refocus last season, Roberts placed the mercurial outfielder atop the lineup May 1.
But that was the lone game in 2016 where Puig hit leadoff. He finished the season batting .263/.323/.416 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs, 45 RBI and a 101 OPS+.