Puig fined for being late, but later homers
MIAMI -- Yasiel Puig, who was fined for arriving roughly 30 minutes late to Marlins Park, was not in the starting lineup Tuesday. But Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the decision not to start Puig was the result of the rookie's recent slump (0-for-11, 3-for-23) and was made before Puig was late.
But Puig made up for it in a big way, hitting a go-ahead homer in the eighth off Marlins reliever Dan Jennings -- two innings after he entered the game as part of a double-switch. The Dodgers won, 6-4.
"Today's a baseball day," Mattingly said of Puig not starting. "I know you'll make more of it. It's hard to take him out of the lineup. I felt like this was the right time, the way he's going. I look at it as a one-day thing."
Mattingly also downplayed Puig's late arrival. Players are required to be in the clubhouse by the time the second of two buses leaves the team hotel, even if the player is not staying at the team hotel. Puig has a home in the Miami area and has stayed there during this visit.
"I was satisfied with his answer; he's just got to leave earlier," said Mattingly. "Caught in traffic, that's fine, get here earlier. He was at his house, he left late enough to make it too close. He's not the first guy. There's more than two or three."
Puig met with Mattingly for 10 minutes after arriving and dressing. Mattingly said he fined Puig, which they discussed, as well as the reasoning for the day off.
"I have to pay closer attention to giving him a day," Mattingly said. "His motor is always going."
Puig has come under increasing scrutiny as his offense has tailed off, his mistakes in the field and on the bases are repeated and his emotions have begun to show. Monday, he shocked members of the Cuban-American media with his conduct before and during a news conference.
In the matchup against fellow Cuban Jose Fernandez, Puig struck out and gave a look at home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck, who snapped at the outfielder. Puig then threw a tantrum in the dugout and had to be ushered out of sight by teammate Juan Uribe
"That's just the emotional part of the game, the way the guy plays," said Mattingly in defense of Puig. "I don't want to take the emotion. I like the energy. It's good to see. We just have to protect him from the umpires.
"It's part of his learning process for umpires, too. He did it in Philly, too, looking back at the umpire, and they take offense to that. You don't want the umpires -- they'll talk and then any call that's close you're not going to get. I want him to learn the umpire language. There's a way to talk and act. It's all part of his maturing process. You can't do it overnight."