PHOENIX — Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was scratched from the lineup for the spring opener on Friday, dealing with hip discomfort.
“There was something with the hip and were trying to figure out if it was the change in shoes. He had a different pair of shoes that he was breaking in and didn’t put his orthotics in,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There was some discomfort and it was an easy choice to give him another day to adjust.”
Trayce Thompson starts in right field for the Dodgers against the White Sox on Friday.
Puig first felt something in his hip on Wednesday, though the injury hasn’t been serious enough to necessitate any sort of medical testing. Puig has been a full participant in workouts, including on Friday.
Roberts said Puig is expected to play on Saturday.
Pace of play
Baseball’s new rules intended to improve game flow go into effect starting on Friday, most notably the limit of six non pitching-change mound visits per team for the first nine innings.
There is bound to be some confusion as the rules are first implemented, specifically with the penalty of an automatic pitching change for each mound visit after the sixth. However, a pitching change can’t be made by someone who isn’t a manager or coach so any sort of visit by a catcher or infielder won’t be allowed at all, unless the umpire determines the pitcher and catcher were crossed up on signs.
“We’ll test the waters and get a position player to go five feet out of his position and see if that counts as a mound visit,” Roberts joked.
Split squad on Saturday
The Dodgers have two games on Saturday, both 12 p.m. PT starts. Ross Stripling gets the start in the home game against the Giants, with non-roster right-hander Zach Neal starting on the road against the Royals in Surprise.
Neal, like Friday starter Wilmer Font and others in camp, will be stretched out as a starting pitcher but is also an option in relief, depending on the need.
“Were going to keep building him up as a starter. How long that goes I really can’t tell you right now,” Roberts said. “He’s a guy with a really good feel and really good command. He’s done numerous roles with the A’s.”
Neal, 29, spent parts of the last two seasons pitching in the majors with Oakland, splitting time with Triple-A Nashville. Neal in those two seasons had a 4.44 ERA in the majors and minors combined with just an 11.1% strikeout rate, but also a minuscule 2.47% walk rate.
“Certain guys are different. If you have a guy who strikes out a lot of guys he might walk a lot of guys. My strikeout ratio is always 3-to-1, just sometimes with not a lot of strikeouts,” Neal said. “I like to pride myself in being consistent. When you call my name you know what you’re going to get every time.”
Old friend in camp
Former Dodgers pitcher Joel Peralta is in camp for about a week to help instruct some pitchers, and will likely return later during spring training as well.
When I first saw him this morning I was excited since Peralta is five days older than me and in a desperate attempt to cling to my youth I need for there to be at least one player in camp older than I am. However Peralta, who retired after the 2016 season after 12 big league seasons, confirmed he is no longer pitching.