Daily Dose: Focusing On PuigThursday, August 29, 2013
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These days, Yasiel Puig is unquestionably one of the most exciting players in baseball. His bat shoots lasers. He's got a bionic right arm. He's a Tasmanian devil on the basepaths.
Now if he could just stay in the lineup.
Physically, Puig has been relatively healthy in his almost three months with the Dodgers, but it's been mental side of his game that continues to get the 22-year-old in trouble. On Wednesday, Puig was pulled in the fifth inning of the team's game against the Cubs for failing to be ready on defense. After the game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would offer nothing more than that he thought Skip Schumaker, Puig's replacement, gave the team a better chance to win. OK, then.
Puig's teammate and the day's starting pitcher, Ricky Nolasco, also wouldn't specify what exactly Puig did to get himself yanked but indicated that Puig's teammates are well aware of the situation.
"He's young. He's going to have to learn," Nolasco told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "It's not going to be a distraction. There are a lot of veterans on the team and we know there are going to be some growing pains. As long as he learns from them, that's the most important thing because he's going to help the team a ton more than he's going to do things like that.
"He knows what he did and he'll come back on Friday and start playing."
Click here for the latest MLB Player News on Puig and everyone else, and follow @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter for all the newest developments. Feel free to shoot any fantasy questions to @Nate_Grimm as we head down the home stretch as well.
It's just the latest incident for Puig. Last week, the outfielder was fined by the team and benched for the start of a game against the Marlins for arriving late to the ballpark. The benching lasted less than one game, as he returned to hit a game-winning home run later that day.
The good news is that the playoff-bound Dodgers are hard-pressed to keep the phenom out of their lineup for long. Mattingly has already said he expects Puig to return to the lineup when the Dodgers play next on Friday, and as evidenced in Miami, Puig has shown an ability to change a game even with a limited number of at-bats. Nothing he's done yet has been egregious enough to force the Dodgers to hold him out for multiple games.
As fantasy owners, we care not what effect Puig's extracurriculars has on the Dodgers' cohesion as a unit, focusing rather on what effect his actions have on our teams' playoff chances. Fortunately, his talents on the field will likely keep him there for the stretch run.
Kemp Set For Rehab (Again)
Puig's mate in the Dodgers outfield, Matt Kemp, could also be back on the field by next week.
Kemp will start a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday, the first game action he'll see since sustaining an ankle injury on July 21. Kemp will serve as the designated hitter in Thursday's game before likely playing the field in subsequent games. He'll play a minimum of three games but could be back with the Dodgers by early next week.
There's some question as to where he'll play once he does return, as Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier have been getting everyday at-bats in Kemp's absence. But even with the Dodgers playing well, it's hard to imagine they'll keep their former MVP candidate on the bench if he's healthy and ready to contribute. It's been a lost season for the 28-year-old, but he's still as capable as anyone of putting up a dazzling line over the season's final month.
Another player capable of putting up some dazzling lines yet this season is one of the newest major leaguers.
It was announced Wednesday that Taijuan Walker would be called up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his major league debut for the Mariners on Friday. Walker, 21, had a 2.93 ERA with 160 strikeouts in 141 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year. He was Baseball America's No. 18 prospect in baseball heading into the 2013 season.
Based on his pedigree and what we know about the pitcher, we'd have advocated grabbing him for his Friday start even if it wasn't against the Astros. There's a possibility the Mariners will try to limit his innings or shut him down before the end of the season, but until then he's an exciting option for teams looking for a pitching boost.
National League Quick Hits: Jason Grilli (forearm) threw a successful 25-pitch simulated game on Wednesday. He's hoping to be cleared to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday and could be back in Pittsburgh in around 10 days ... Dexter Fowler (knee) is scheduled for an MRI. The Rockies are hoping the injury is just a bruise as originally diagnosed ... Braves activated Dan Uggla from the 15-day DL. Uggla made a quick recovery from LASIK surgery earlier in the month ... Pirates optioned LHP Jeff Locke to Double-A Altoona. Locke will be back up in September, but it's hard to see them continuing to use him as a starter given his recent struggles ... Carlos Quentin's strained right knee will force him to miss the rest of the season ... Marlon Byrd homered in his Pirates debut ... Tyler Chatwood (elbow) is on track to rejoin the Rockies rotation on Sunday ... Minor league reliever Victor Black was identified as the player to be named later in the Marlon Byrd trade ... Robbie Erlin was recalled by the Padres on Wednesday and earned his first victory, holding the Diamondbacks to one run over six innings ... Dodgers signed RHP Edinson Volquez for, well, some reason ... Wandy Rodriguez (forearm) may be able to begin a rehab assignment soon, but his fantasy usefulness for 2013 is long gone.
American League Quick Hits: The Orioles claimed Josh Willingham off waivers from the Twins. The two teams have a few days to work out a trade for the 34-year-old ... Danny Duffy was recalled by the Royals and threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Twins on Wednesday. He'll keep his rotation spot with Wade Davis being assigned to Triple-A, so he's a viable option in mixed leagues going forward ... Robinson Cano (hand) missed Wednesday's game but should be back in the lineup in the next few days. A trip to the disabled list isn't expected to be necessary ... Oswaldo Arcia (wrist) will travel with the Twins on their upcoming road trip this weekend. It's a sign he could be back any day now. Joe Mauer (concussion) will not make the trip ... Ryan Raburn was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left Achilles strain ... Brett Anderson was activated from the DL and earned a three-inning save in relief on Wednesday. He allowed three runs in those three innings ... X-rays on Jacoby Ellsbury's foot came back negative. He should return to the lineup in short order after leaving Wednesday's game.