Yasiel Puig effort questioned in Dodgers' win

Harry How

The rookie right fielder was removed from Wednesday's win after just four innings for a lack of preparedness on defense.

LOS ANGELES -- The latest chapter in the Yasiel Puig saga took a disciplinary turn, as the 22-year-old rookie outfielder was removed from the game after the fourth inning of the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Cubs. The exact reason for Puig's benching wasn't revealed, but it was related to his play in right field.

Skip Schumaker entered the game in right field for Puig to start the top of the fifth inning.

Puig said through an interpreter that he was not preparing well for each pitch on defense and that he understood manager Don Mattingly's decision.

Mattingly, however, declined to divulge many details for his decision to remove Puig, who was 0-for-1 with a walk on Wednesday.

"I like keeping it in in house. I don't think there is any reason to discuss reasons why, this, that or whatever," Mattingly said. "It was a simple decision really. I felt like at that point in the game, Skip gave us a better chance to win."

Puig is batting .346/.406/.557 with 13 home runs in 76 games on the season. Schumaker is hitting .272/.345/.347 and has 14 home runs in his last four years.

"Yasiel gives us the best chance to win on a daily basis but today I just felt like Skip gave us the best chance to win the rest of the game," Mattingly clarified.

The start of Mattingly's postgame meeting with reporters was delayed several minutes longer than usual, as Mattingly had a meeting with Puig and general manager Ned Colletti.

Mattingly dismissed a pair of speculative reasons why Puig was removed, saying he didn't have a problem with Puig not sliding into second base on a double play in the first inning, nor did he mind Puig's penchant for nonchalantly catching fly balls with his glove to the side in the outfield.

"I played with Rickey Henderson, and he made those catches all the time. I don't mind them," Mattingly said. "If he catches a thousand balls like that on the side, he'll maybe drop one."

When pressed for a reason why Schumaker gave the Dodgers a better chance to win on Wednesday Mattingly explained, "Today I felt like I was going to get a better effort out of Skip."

Ricky Nolasco, whose 11 strikeouts and eight shutout innings were overshadowed by Puig's benching, supported Mattingly's decision, even though he didn't know the specific reason why Puig was removed.

"What he was doing today wasn't acceptable, and (Mattingly) thought that was the best decision, to remove him," Nolasco said. "As long as he learns from it (he'll be okay). He's going to listen to us as teammates, he respects us, and we're going to help him out."

Mattingly said removing Puig wasn't personal.

"I love these guys. I love all my players. I see the good in all of them," Mattingly said. "I talk to (Puig) like I would talk to my kids. I try to be honest with him, tell him what I think. I have to represent the whole ball club with some decisions that I make."

Whatever the exact reason for the discipline was, it sounds like the message was received and Puig's sentence was short. Mattingly said he plans to have Puig back in the starting lineup on Friday when the Dodgers open up a three-game series against the Padres.

Up next

The Dodgers are off on Thursday and don't even have to travel. They resume their nine-game homestand with a weekend series against the Padres, beginning Friday night. Hyun-jin Ryu starts the opener for the Dodgers, facing old friend Eric Stults.

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