Dodgers News: Kenley Jansen Needles Yasiel Puig Over Batting Cleanup
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season has been one of redemption for Yasiel Puig. Demoted in August of 2016 after the Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to trade him, Puig has been an improved player, teammate and clubhouse presence since returning from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Puig went into Spring Training this year hoping to again be an everyday right fielder, whether with the Dodgers or another club. Los Angeles wasn’t moved to sell low on their dynamic talent, and dropped Puig in the lineup to take pressure off his shoulders.

That move, coupled with a strong relationship with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and hitting coach Turner Ward, has amounted to Puig having his best season since a phenomenal rookie year in 2013.

Puig’s production has moved him up in the batting order of late, and on Thursday he hit cleanup behind Cody Bellinger.

The mood in the clubhouse was light after the Dodgers snapped their four-game losing streak. So much so that Puig interrupted an interview Kenley Jansen was giving, which prompted the closer to poke fun at his teammate, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:

“Kenley Jansen,” Puig said, “how did you feel today?”

“How did I feel today?” Jansen said. “I felt great. I thought we were going to lose this one, for sure, with you batting fourth. I thought we didn’t have a shot.”

Puig went 1-for-4 in the series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, with his sacrifice fly in the first inning driving in the first run of the game. Puig appeared in three of the four games, starting each time, and went a combined 3-for-13 with the one RBI and four strikeouts.

Enterint Friday, he’s batting .233/.314/.372 with two home runs and eight RBI in 10 starts as a cleanup hitter. Overall this season, Puig is hitting .261/.342/.478 with 23 doubles, 26 home runs, 70 RBI and 61 walks.

He’s set career highs in home runs and RBI, and is six walks shy of tying his best mark.