Once demoted, now promoting
NEW YORK — Yasiel Puig did not linger at Citi Field on Friday night. After setting a career high with his 20th home run this season, the Dodgers right fielder took a car to Secaucus, N.J., and stopped by MLB Network’s studios to appear as a guest on a live broadcast.
The field trip amused manager Dave Roberts.
“Yasiel is a big advocate of Major League Baseball,” Roberts said before Saturday’s game against the Mets. “People gravitate toward him . . . . Obviously, there’s a lot worse things a player could be doing in New York City.”
It was only a year ago that Puig wasn’t even in the majors. The Dodgers optioned him to triple-A Oklahoma City after the trade deadline in 2016 after being unable to swing a deal to get him out of L.A. Puig spent a month in the minors before rejoining the team as a bench player in September and October.
Puig has responded to the demotion with some of his best baseball since his first two seasons in the majors. After homering again Saturday, a tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning of a 7-4 Dodgers win, he has an .815 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this season, his best since 2014. Roberts also believes Puig deserves a Gold Glove for his play in right field.
“He’s continuing to grow,” Roberts said. “I think the Dodgers have won his heart over. I think he’s starting to understand that the most important thing is to win baseball games for the Dodgers, and to help the Dodgers win. And it’s not about him. And I think I can say that about every one of our guys.”
Chris Taylor, removed from Friday’s game as a precaution after fouling a pitch off his knee midway through the game, was back in the lineup Saturday and homered in the sixth inning.
“I just had some deadleg,” said Taylor, who stayed in the game for a few innings before Roberts took him out. “It was sore.”
Taylor, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager all fouled cutters from Mets starter Jacob deGrom off their back legs Friday.
A test for Wood
Alex Wood will throw a bullpen session Sunday to gauge his readiness for a start next week against Arizona. Wood admitted some fatigue after his outing Thursday in Atlanta. If cleared to pitch, he would start on Wednesday. Kenta Maeda is scheduled for Tuesday and Yu Dar vish is slated for Thursday.
The Dodgers are not worried about Wood harboring an injury. But Roberts mentioned how a tired pitcher might put himself at risk.
“In some cases, when you’re talking fatigue, to put a pitcher or a player in harm’s way, you want to guard against that,” Roberts said.