LOS ANGELES — Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pulled star rookie Yasiel Puig from Wednesday’s 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in the fifth inning for disciplinary reasons. Mattingly would not disclose the reason for Puig’s benching.
Mattingly said he switched out Puig — who is batting .346 — with utility man Skip Schumaker because it gave the Dodgers “the best chance to win.”
After the game, Puig met with Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti in Mattingly’s office for about 30 minutes.
It could have been a number of things. In the first inning, Puig went into second base standing up on Carl Crawford’s grounder rather than attempt to break up the double play, which Chicago turned. The next batter was Hanley Ramirez, who launched a solo home run.
Puig, 22, also had a couple of snatch catches in right field in the fourth inning, but that is not unusual for him. After his third inning strikeout, Puig slammed his bat into the turf in disgust and then walked slowly out to right field to play defense.
“All those things could be true and maybe they all could possibly lead to what went on today, but really, more than anything, it always gets back, to me, to Skip gave us a better chance,” Mattingly said. “I love these guys. I love all my players and I see the good in all of them and it’s my responsibility, I feel like, to give us the best chance to win and make decisions based on what’s best for the whole team.”
Last week in Miami, Puig violated a team rule by showing up late to the clubhouse and Mattingly fined him. He also benched Puig for one game, though Mattingly said it was not related to his late arrival.
Several veteran players on the Dodgers have complained, either publicly or privately, about the repetition of some of Puig’s youthful mistakes, such as an inability to hit cutoff men and sometimes-reckless base running.
“He’s young. He’s going to have to learn,” veteran pitcher Ricky Nolasco said. “It’s not going to be a distraction. There are a lot of veterans on the team and we know there are going to be some growing pains. As long as he learns from them, that’s the most important thing because he’s going to help the team a ton more than he’s going to do things like that.
“He knows what he did and he’ll come back on Friday and start playing.”
Mattingly said he expects Puig to return to the starting lineup Friday night against the San Diego Padres.
After the meeting, Puig said Mattingly explained it had to do with his defensive readiness.
“I wasn’t preparing well for each pitch,” Puig said through an interpreter. “It was a good decision.”
The Dodgers already were playing a position player short since they are carrying 13 pitchers on their roster. After his removal, Puig retreated to the clubhouse, but returned to the bench a few minutes later.
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com