By Jon Weisman
Dave Roberts’ patience with Justin Turner has been rewarded. Now comes Yasiel Puig.
Turner, who had three homers and a .642 OPS through June 3 — amid calls for him to be lowered in the lineup — has seven homers and a 1.159 OPS since.
“Mechanically, I thought (Turner) was fine,” Roberts said. “The at-bats were quality. The contact point needed to be different for me, (but) with the adjustments that he made, he’s seeing some results.
Activated from the disabled list today, Puig makes his first start since June 2, and he has something to prove.
“Yasiel,” Roberts said, “mechanically wasn’t right.
“I think that he was not picking up pitches early, and I think that the load was closing himself off, and then once you coil up and turn yourself in, then the only way to go is to rotate the other way. So it was hurting his staying through the zone with the bat — the length through the zone — and also identifying pitches. Hopefully, we’ve cleaned that up.”
Roberts and the Dodgers will be watching every at-bat closely, but not anxiously.
“For me, I want to see consistent quality at-bats from him, regardless of the results, because I believe with his skill set, if he’s putting up good at-bats and squaring the baseball up, he’ll get hits and drive runs in,” Roberts said. “It could be a week, it could be two weeks, it could be three weeks. It could be four games. Whatever the number, for me it’s just the day-to-day, watching him and evaluating him.”
Puig indicated through a translator that he was eager to get back into action, emphasizing the need to focus on good pitches, without being particularly forthcoming about any mechanical adjustments.
“I feel really good after all the work I did,” Puig said. “I felt I could be 100 percent. I want to do my best on the field.”
With Puig starting, Trayce Thompson is getting a day off after starting 20 consecutive games since May 31, but Roberts said Thompson would be back in the lineup Wednesday, in left field. In his past nine games, Thompson is 5 for 33 with a double, a homer and three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Roberts said Howie Kendrick will continue to get playing time at left field, third base and second base, and that he needed to make sure Scott Van Slyke and Kiké Hernandez also got their at-bats.