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Kershaw CCV: Kershawstbusters
Dee Gordon, 2B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P
By Jon Weisman
After placing Joc Pederson in the starting lineup in center field tonight, Dodger manager Don Mattingly made it clear — in case it wasn’t — that slumping Yasiel Puig’s job wasn’t in jeopardy.
“This time of year, I don’t think Yasiel has to prove he can do it,” Mattingly said. “We know he can do it … it’s more what can we do to get him back.”
Puig is in a 2-for-32 struggle with seven walks, and has not homered since July 31 (though he did blast a long out in San Diego that would have been a homer many other places). His only extra-base hit since August 15 was a pop-fly sun double.
Mattingly said that there was a sink-or-swim case to be made for Puig playing through the slump, but in part because this is his first 162-game MLB season, there’s also a thought that breaks from the lineup could help.
“Yas continues to struggle,” Mattingly said. “We’re hoping to give him a day here and give him a chance to work it out.”
But again, Mattingly tried to stop speculation that the Dodger outfield roles were wide open.
“I do think competition’s healthy, as long as it’s about winning games,” Mattingly said. “I don’t want to turn the apple cart over … I want to keep the harmony here. For tonight, this is the best lineup.”
Mattingly didn’t deny that he was excited to see what Pederson could do and happy to see him get opportunities, but added that those feelings weren’t unique to Pederson.
“With all the young guys, I think you’re always excited,” Mattingly said. “Same as we are about Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias, these guys that come up and throw the ball well.”
And yet, he did note that with Pederson, “you could tell right away he had that little swagger, little confidence.” He added that there was agreement throughout the organization that Pederson was the best defensive center fielder on the team.
* * *
As expected, three players optioned by the Dodgers in the final week of August — Erisbel Arruebarrena, Frias and Miguel Rojas — have rejoined the team now that the minor-league seasons are over in Albuquerque and Rancho Cucamonga. Frias is slated to start Wednesday’s day game/series finale against Washington.
Pederson getting a few starts in CF was inevitable. The ideal situation would have been for him to start during the last week after we had clinched with a 7+ game lead, but this is not a big deal. Mattingly has had Puig sit a couple of times, and obviously, Puig needs some time to get it together. But there is little doubt at this point that Puig (still the top overall hitter on the club) is the starting CenterFielder, and that the outfield array in the playoffs (assumgint we get there) will be Crawford-Puig-Kemp.
But this is also something of a preview of 2015. Pederson is the only 30-30 player in the PCL in 80 years because anyone else playing that well (and remember, he was playing almost as well as Puig in AA last year) would have been called up by now. The hope would be for a Kemp-Pederson-Puig OF on Opening Day next season. But that’s a long way off right now (fortunately).
Jon – I realize that there have been some new posts (NPUT!) since this one but I’m just catching up on my Dodger Insider reading.
Here’s my question: I’m very curious as to where Kershaw’s Roman Numeral and Interesting Kershawesqueian Title for last nights line up box went? Did you have one prepared and it didn’t make it in? Or did you decide to skip a start because it’s a long season and wanted to give the tradition a brief rest in order to be sharp for the pennant race/possible playoff run?
Okay – now I officially feel like one of those fan-fest guys that is curious about the minutiae of every single episode of their favourite sci-fi show.
Anyway, thanks for making the Dodger fan experience even better with all your writing and insights.
Honestly, it was a crazy day and I just forgot to get to it. I meant to, but then it slipped my mind. Might do one retroactively.
I’m hoping Puig will pull out of this slump soon, before it’s too late. Good luck to Pederson.