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By Jon Weisman

Appropriately, it didn’t get talked about all that much, but you could still catch some people muttering and snickering about Yasiel Puig’s homerless sub-.150 Spring Training batting average.

The reprieve began early this morning – that is to say, late this evening in Australia – when Puig followed a laser assist from right field with a game-tying home run to lead the Dawn Dodgers of the 21st century to a 4-2 victory over Team Australia.

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“I did feel bad [about the poor spring numbers],” Puig told Ken Gurnick in his recap of the game. I have been preparing well, but it’s not going as well as I’d hoped for. Spring Training, at the end of the day, doesn’t matter. It’s two months, and the season is long. Those at-bats are the ones that matter.”

Said Don Mattingly: “I see this as a year of transition for him. We’ve seen [pitchers] make adjustments and seen him handle the adjustments and make them back. He showed last year he can.”

It’s a lesson not only for Spring Training, but for the start of the regular season. The results of this weekend’s games will hover in the atmosphere for more than a week until the Dodgers’ third regular season is played in San Diego; they won’t play their 10th official game until April 9, or 19 days after their first. That’s great news for someone who grabs headlines while hitting .400, but not so hot for someone who gets off to a slow start and needs playing time to whip it around.

I bet more Dodger fans remember J.D. Drew went 0 for 24 to start his first year with the Dodgers than remember he had a .437 on-base percentage, .570 slugging and 1.007 OPS in the games thereafter. (I realize more people remember the season-ending hit-by pitch or the dreaded opt-out than either of those things.)

Bottom line: Don’t get caught up in early, small-sample results. That includes me not getting too happy that Chone Figgins walked for the 10th time in exhibition play, a walk that later led to the Dodgers’ go-ahead run, or that Zach Lee and Red Patterson each allowed only one run in their outings (aided by Puig’s run-saving throw in the sixth) – or too sad that Los Angeles only managed one hit in its first seven innings against Team Australia, with Scott Van Slyke striking out three times.

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In other news:

  • Adrian Gonzalez left the game early with lower back tightness. Gurnick reports that Gonzalez doesn’t expect that to be a factor for the Opening Series, but we’ll see how he feels in the next 48 hours. In my mind, the flight home might be the bigger hazard. Gonzalez played through neck issues at times last year.

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  • I’ve been wondering what the Dodgers will do with the option-less backup catcher Drew Butera. So is Gurnick.