Puig likely to see more time in middle of lineup

Dodgers outfielder hits 3rd spring HR in Freeway Series opener

March 26th, 2018

ANAHEIM -- hit a home run Sunday out of the No. 3 spot in the Dodgers' lineup, and his opportunities in that part of the order might become something of a regular thing.
With missing time with a fractured left wrist, the Dodgers are looking for middle-of-the-order options, which would also include outfielder Matt Kemp.
"Can I say right now that he is going to hit third every day? Absolutely not," manager Dave Roberts said of Puig after a 4-2 win in the Freeway Series opener at Angel Stadium. "But I think that I will give him a little bit of a runway to show that he deserves that opportunity."
Puig spent the majority of 2017 hitting out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup, getting 235 plate appearances there. He did not get more than 91 plate appearances in any other lineup spot. He had just four plate appearances in the No. 3 spot last season.
"I think probably the more I thought about Yasiel and the presence he has in the box, him against right-handed pitching, and the at-bat quality last year, [he] has been very consistent," Roberts said. "So I think that right now, losing [Turner], it's an opportunity for [Puig] and gives us a chance to be considerably better with J.T. not in the lineup."
Seager gearing up
With a sheepish grin, Dodgers shortstop promises that baseball is nowhere near as easy as he makes it look.
In taking the National League by storm the past two seasons, Seager has even managed to make his mark with short Spring Trainings.
In 2016, Seager missed time in spring with a sprained right knee. He went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. In 2017, his spring was slowed by a sore oblique. He still finished the year tied for 17th in MVP Award voting with teammate .
This year, a sore elbow has cost him some time in the spring sunshine, but with the regular season on the horizon, Seager says he feels ready to go. He has learned how to compress his preparation time.
"I had some unwanted practice in [recovering from injuries], but it's nice to kind of actually move around and get into the flow of games," Seager said Sunday. "It helps knowing [how to do] that so if you need to turn something on, or speed something up, you know how."

Seager was back in the starting lineup Sunday night. He had a day off Saturday after hitting home runs in back-to-back games Thrusday and Friday. In Friday's game against the Royals, he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
On Sunday, he hit a pair of deep fly balls before collecting a single in the fifth inning.
"It's always nice to have [a result]," Seager said. "I kind of found some feeling that I was looking for."
Roster decisions to wait
The Dodgers have a position-player decision to make on their roster and Roberts is not in a hurry to make that call. He did say, though, that making a decision to carry , or , who is out of Minor League options, won't be based on production over the final three exhibition games.
"We know what we have in the players," Roberts said. "So now, as an organization, we have to make sense of what works best for the Dodgers when we break camp. That's something that internally we have been discussing so we have to come to some finalization."
Maeda goes 5 innings in final tuneup
Dodgers right-hander gave up two runs in his final spring outing. They came on solo home runs from the Angels' Zack Cozart and . In five innings of work, he allowed just four hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.
"I'm pretty prepared in terms of innings and pitches, and I'm ready to go," Maeda said through an interpreter.

Maeda's two home runs allowed Sunday matched his total in 12 1/3 innings pitched in Cactus League play.
"Those two pitches were really just mistake pitches that they took advantage of," Maeda said. "But as a pitcher, pitching in a colder environment [than Arizona], it was a good takeaway for me."
Up next
With the Freeway Series shifting to Dodger Stadium on Monday night, the Dodgers will send left-hander Rich Hill to the mound opposite Angels right-hander . First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT. The game will be available on MLB.TV.