Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts benched Yasiel Puig a second consecutive game, with Monday’s punishment due to Puig’s late arrival for a scheduled early round of batting practice at Dodger Stadium.
“Where we’re at right now, it has to be very clear to everyone in the clubhouse that the only purpose is to prepare for the postseason,” Roberts said. Whereas the second-year manager was visibly frustrated with his outfielder on Saturday, he seemed disappointed by the latest incident.
“No one player can be bigger than the team,” Roberts said. “The priority has got to be for all of us. At this point and time, the last thing we all need to be concerning ourself with is somebody whose sole focus isn’t on the ballclub.”
“This is a decision I made that I feel is in the best interest of our ballclub.” At the time of addressing the media prior to the series opener with the San Diego Padres, Roberts had yet to speak with Puig.
The series of events have put a damper on a season in which Puig has been lauded for his maturity. Even while admonishing the outfielder, Roberts highlighted Puig’s growth from last season. “He’s made tremendous strides and had a tremendous season,” Roberts said.
“I never like talking about a particular player in this kind of context, especially in this time of year. This is something, again, it’s unfortunate. All year long he’s been great. We’ve talked many times about accountability, and this is one of those situations where he has to be accountable. We hold everyone to the same standard. It’s pretty simple.”
Puig spent much of the season batting eighth but produced at a clip that prompted Roberts to move him to sixth in the lineup. Puig recently was batting cleanup to protect Cody Bellinger.
The 26-year-old is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday. “Yasiel and I, and his teammates and everybody, we’re all on the same page,” Roberts said after the Dodgers’ 9-3 win against the Padres.
“We’re all aligned and our only focus is winning baseball games and winning a championship for the Dodgers.”