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Yasiel Puig hits first spring home run, shines on defense too

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig had a productive Monday on both sides of the ball, hitting a home run and making a key defensive play in the team's 5-5 tie against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.

Coming to the plate hearing the loudest boos of the day from the partisan crowd, Puig flew out to center field the first inning, but then in the fourth got a hold of one off Ryan Vogelsong.

"He had good at-bats. I thought the one he hit to center was hit well," manager Don Mattingly said. "On the second one, he laid off some breaking balls and got a ball over the plate."

It was the first home run of the spring for Puig, who was 1-for-3 on the day, but also made a mark with a pair of defensive plays.

In the second inning, Puig cut off a ball hit to right center with two outs, holding Matt Duffy to a single.

"That ball he cuts off in the gap is a great play. It's one of those plays that maybe you notice it, maybe you don't," Mattingly said. "It won't be on SportsCenter but that's a great play."

Puig's play proved important because the next hitter, Gregor Blanco, hit a ball near second base that was fielded by Jimmy Rollins for an inning-ending groundout.

"I was happy with Yasiel cutting that ball off and holding the guy at first," starting pitcher Brett Anderson said. "If he's at second base, that ground ball up the middle might be a run-scoring single instead of an easy groundout."

It wasn't just that play, but an overall awareness that hasn't always been present with Puig, but was praised by Mattingly on Monday.

"Definitely today, he was moving every pitch," Mattingly said. "That's all you ask. You've got to be ready to go."

Puig was also ready to go in an otherwise disastrous fifth inning that saw the Giants tally five runs against Brandon League and Carlos Frias. On a single to right by Joaquin Arias, Puig threw home but Jarrett Parker was called safe.

"That guy is out," Mattingly noted. "Our guy says he's out, but there's no replay right now."

Unlike last year when instant replay review was new and was tested in select spring games, there is no replay available during spring training contests this season.

Notes

Erik Bedard, vying for next man up status on the Dodgers' starting pitching depth chart, threw two scoreless innings of his own in his second outing of the spring, with a walk and two strikeouts. He finished his day with a simulated inning in the bullpen after his two innings of work, and spawned this absolutely classic Mattingly quote.

"He's got some weapons too. He gives you a lot of different looks. He can add and subtract. He's a pro, been in the big leagues a while and knows how to use his pitches," Mattingly said. "He was good."

Jimmy Rollins was 2-for-3 with a triple and a double.

Andre Ethier was 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the seventh inning that cut the Dodgers' deficit to one run. Ethier, starting in left field, also threw out a runner at home, this one officially recognized by the umpires, nailing Brandon Hicks on a sacrifice fly attempt in the third inning.

"Dre's good everywhere. No surprise," Mattingly said. "He had a nice swing on the ball with a guy on third. He looks good. He's actually swinging the bat better the last couple of days, you could see his timing is coming."

The Dodgers are now 4-1-2, with 28 games remaining to challenge their LA Dodgers record for spring training ties with five, tied last year. "Last year a tie was like a win for us," Mattingly joked. "We needed those."

Corey Seager had a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning, and is now 3-for-8 with two doubles and four walks. Seager is also one of just three Dodgers to play six games in six days so far in the Cactus League, along with O`Koyea Dickson and Kyle Jensen.

Up next

The Dodgers return home on Tuesday, with Clayton Kershaw making his second Cactus League start, this one against the Rockies, with Eddie Butler on the hill for Colorado.