After wins, Dodgers have time to regroup
Puig, Ryu nurse injuries, while erratic bullpen is point of emphasis
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers returned Sunday from their successful Australian getaway in first place and now get a week to reset, time needed for Hyun-Jin Ryu's toenail and whatever ails Yasiel Puig to heal.
The Dodgers are not sure if Ryu will be able to make his next start, which would most likely be a week from Wednesday in San Diego. Ryu split a toenail when slamming on the brakes after a late stop sign from third-base coach Lorenzo Bundy in the second inning of Sunday's game.
The injury was apparently worse than it sounds and bothered Ryu on the mound. He nevertheless battled through five scoreless innings and left with a five-run lead that grew to seven runs before the bullpen nearly allowed a comeback by the D-backs before finishing with a 7-5 victory.
Despite collecting three hits, Puig tested the patience of manager Don Mattingly. Puig often appears injured at the plate, on the bases and in the field -- then stays in the game.
Mattingly even semi-joked about it before Sunday's game, comparing Puig to the boy who cried wolf and suggesting that nobody would believe it if Puig were to be injured.
Then in the top of the ninth inning Sunday, Puig struck out and aggravated a back injury from two weeks ago. He was removed from the game in a double-switch.
In the postgame news conference, Mattingly seemed equal parts frustrated, skeptical and sarcastic when asked about Puig's condition.
"Shoulder yesterday, back today, so I'm not sure if they're going to get him tests or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe," he said. "I'm not quite sure what we'll do. We may not do anything. I'm not sure."
Mattingly has said he takes the bad with the good in the oft-undisciplined Puig, who ran into two outs Sunday along with the three hits, two RBIs and a run scored. It is a dynamic package for sure, but it is not always pretty.
As a rule, management has let Puig run free. Teammates, however, are less amused than ever by his antics. Until Matt Kemp returns and shows his ankle is healthy, Mattingly needs Puig and will play him. With a healthy Kemp, the four outfielders for three positions takes on an edgier dynamic as the relationship between the manager and his flamboyant right fielder evolves.
Mattingly's criticisms Sunday, however, were not limited to Puig. He had harsh words for the bullpen that he felt forced him to use closer Kenley Jansen twice in the first 19 hours of the season because it could not protect a seven-run lead.
"We talked about this last year a lot; you don't play like this and win," Mattingly said. "You may win and get to the playoffs, but you don't win like this. This ends up getting us in trouble.
"Clayton [Kershaw] was really good, Hyun-Jin was really good, and I think that's where we're built. That's where we don't want to make mistakes and not take advantage of anything you could take advantage of where your starting pitching's this good."
Puig will not be sent to the Minor Leagues anytime soon, but some of Sunday's relievers are not as secure.
The Dodgers need three roster spots to make room for the return of pitchers Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Brandon League by next Sunday night. By mid-April, when a fifth starter will be used for the first time, another spot will be needed as Josh Beckett comes off the disabled list.
Excluding Jansen, of the pitchers currently in the bullpen, the club has options on Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez. Rodriguez and Withrow each allowed two of four batters to reach base, and Dominguez allowed three of four batters to reach base, with all three scoring.
Rule 5 Draft acquisition Seth Rosin did not pitch and can't be sent down without being offered back to Philadelphia and clearing waivers. Veteran long man Jamey Wright allowed four of six batters to reach base. And Jansen served up a home run to Mark Trumbo.
The Dodgers get a full day off on Monday and will work out Tuesday, when Mattingly said there would be an intrasquad game. They will have another workout Wednesday before playing the Angels in Thursday, Friday and Saturday night games.