Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig will not be activated from the disabled list on Monday when the team returns to Dodger Stadium for a homestand, as originally planned. Puig felt tightness in his injured left hamstring on Friday night in a rehabilitation game with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, and will have an MRI to assess his status, per multiple reports.
UPDATE: the MRI will be Monday, not Sunday as originally reported.
Puig played right field for the Quakes on Friday against the High Desert Mavericks (Rangers) in Adelanto, his second of three scheduled games with Rancho Cucamonga. Puig homered in his first at-bat, struck out in the second inning, then grounded to third base in the fifth inning.
But as he was running to first base in that third at-bat, Puig pulled up as he was running down the line.
Puig's third atbat, grounds out and pulled up early running down the first-base line. Grabs his bats and heads for club house. Rancho up 2-1— RC Quakes Baseball (@RCQuakes) May 9, 2015
Puig ran hard 3/4 way to 1B and pulled up. He immediately grabbed his gear and headed to the visitor's clubhouse. pic.twitter.com/YTytQR8jdC— ThinkBlueLA (@Think_BlueLA) May 9, 2015
Puig left the game, and was replaced in right field in the bottom of the inning.
"I felt a little bit of tightness when I was running and I just want to rest a little bit," Puig said through an interpreter to Ron Cervenka of Think Blue LA. "I just want to rest a little bit, exercise and get ready for baseball again. It was a good night out."
The Dodgers had originally planned for Puig to play in right field on Saturday for the Quakes as well, but with the setback that was canceled, and an MRI was scheduled for Sunday in Los Angeles.
"To find out that he has to pull up or is feeling something, it just tells you that he isn’t ready. It doesn’t mean he’s had a total setback or anything," manager Don Mattingly told reporters on Saturday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. "So from our standpoint it’s not a monumental thing like he’s blown something up or anything. It just says that he’s not ready."
Puig missed four games in a five-game span from April 14-20 with hamstring tightness, then aggravated the injury on April 24 in San Diego. This is Puig's first career trip to the disabled list. Mattingly sounded on Saturday like someone wanting to make sure Puig didn't have a second DL stint anytime soon.
"People look at rehab as it's something he has to do. It's designed to find out if he's 100 percent, instead of finding out here and it costs another 15 games," Mattingly said, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. You can't simulate game speed and action. That's what those games are for."
So Puig won't be back Monday as originally planned. But Sunday's MRI will give us some idea of just how much longer the club will be without the All-Star right fielder.
What it means in the immediate future is more playing time for Alex Guerrero and Scott Van Slyke. a Both Puig and left fielder Carl Crawford are on the disabled list, Crawford with a right oblique strain that could keep him out a while. Andre Ethier has basically taken over in right field, starting 12 of 13 games in right field since Puig was placed on the disabled list.
Ethier, hitting .288/.392/.581 so far this season, wasn't in Saturday's planned lineup against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, and likely won't be on Sunday with the same pitching matchup scheduled, though with snow and more rain in Denver Sunday's game might be washed out, too.
Van Slyke has played in 10 of 13 games since Puig was placed on the DL, starting five games in left field. Though just 6-for-26 (.231) since Puig went on the DL, Van Slyke on the season is hitting .302/.367/.465.
Guerrero has started six games in left field with Puig on the shelf, and one more at third base. He's 5-for-21 (.238) during that span, but with two home runs and three walks. Guerrero was slated to start on Saturday at third base, with Van Slyke in left field.
Dodgers outfielders are hitting .270/.378/.524, leading the majors in OPS, OPS+ (144), wOBA (.386), wRC+ (148), home runs (18, tied), slugging percentage and walks (50). And that's with Puig playing and starting only 11 of 29 games this season.
Look for more playing time for Guerrero and Van Slyke in the near term with two starting outfielders sidelined. We'll find out soon just how long that timeshare will continue, with an update on the extent of Puig's hamstring.