The Dodgers will play their final home game of the Cactus League on Tuesday night against the Rockies, but the flags will be at half mast as Mr. 526 is no longer here. Yasiel Puig has been optioned to Double-A Chattanooga.
"I told him he had a great camp. It's an organizational decision of what we think is best for him, now and in the long term," said manager Don Mattingly. "We think this guy has a chance to be a really good player. He's done nothing wrong in our camp, but he can just keep improving."
Mattingly dropped the news on Puig on Tuesday, and the outfielder was understandably not pleased with the decision.
"He didn't seem that happy about it. You don't really want guys to be happy that they're being sent out," Mattingly said. "When we came into camp, this guy wasn't even on the radar (for this season). He's had a great camp.... Obviously he's put himself on the map as far as probably knocking on the door instead of being a couple of years away."
Puig was originally on the travel roster for the Freeway Series, though it is unknown whether or not he will now play this weekend. Puig is technically eligible to play, if the Dodgers so choose.
Mattingly was metaphor happy when talking Puig.
"I told Ned (Colletti, general manager) this, I look at Yasiel like a Ferrari. The motor is there, the body is there, the wheels are there, but you just haven't painted it yet. Then you leave it out in the sun with no paint and you get it exposed a little bit," Mattingly said. "We want this guy totally ready as possible when he walks in the door at Dodger Stadium, and not to ever have to go back down again."
Mattingly was asked if he would be remembered like the high school coach who once cut Michael Jordan from the varsity basketball team.
"I'm not the high school coach who cut Michael Jordan," Mattingly quipped. "I'm going to be Dean Smith, who enhanced his fundamentals."
- Mattingly said Dee Gordon, who was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, was briefly considered as a replacement for the injured Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. But ultimately the club decided to stick their original plan heading into spring training.
"Dee we felt like needs to be in Triple-A playing every day, and continuing to develop. We felt like we rushed Dee last year and probably hurt him a little bit," Mattingly said. "He's had a good camp this year, he's had a great attitude. There have been no issues with him. We want him to be able to continue to develop. Like Puig, we'd really like him to be able to come up, the next time he comes up, and be able to stay."
- Aaron Harang starts for the Dodgers, and scheduled to follow him on the mound are four relief pitchers battling for maybe one spot in the bullpen: Josh Wall, Paco Rodriguez, Peter Moylan, and Kevin Gregg. Minor league pitchers in uniform include lefties Mike Thomas (No. 84) and Eric Eadington (No. 88), and Steve Smith (No. 90).
- Other minor leaguers in uniform for the Dodgers are infielders Rafael Ynoa (No. 83), Corey Seager (No. 89), and Chris Jacobs (No. 98); and outfielders Matt Angle (No. 82), Nick Buss (No. 87), and Blake Smith (No. 91).
- Old friend Jon Garland starts for Colorado, and scheduled to follow him on the mound are Manny Corpas, Rafael Betancourt, Adam Ottavino, Chris Volstad, and Logan Kensing.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
Radio: KLAC 570