LOS ANGELES -- Managing Yasiel Puig has been an exercise in handling a frustrated player during manager Dave Roberts' first year with the Dodgers.After a week in which Puig made solid contact with the ball for the most part, but only had one game with significant success, Roberts gave the
LOS ANGELES -- Managing Yasiel Puig has been an exercise in handling a frustrated player during manager Dave Roberts' first year with the Dodgers.
After a week in which Puig made solid contact with the ball for the most part, but only had one game with significant success, Roberts gave the right fielder the day off Monday to rest, both physically and mentally.
"There's a little reaction after certain at-bats where he gets a little more emotional than he has been," Roberts said before the Dodgers opened the Freeway Series against the Angels at Dodger Stadium. "That is a sign, as a player, where you get frustrated. For me, it's just to take him out of that situation, give him a day to catch his breath and get him back in there. In the beginning part of the season, he hasn't shown too much of that, so, yeah, he's frustrated."
Roberts said after Monday he planned for Puig to be back in the lineup for at least the next four days. It's not difficult to see the causes and symptoms of Puig's frustration when looking at his peripherals.
His batting average on ball in play (BABIP) for the 2016 season currently stands at .272, well below his career mark of .342. While that is an indication of bad luck, the fact that Puig has hit infield fly balls in 23.3 percent of his balls in play is also a significant factor. Before 2016, Puig's career high was 10.3 in his rookie year.
As far as plate discipline and aggression at the plate, Puig's 20.7 strikeout rate is in line with his past levels, but his walk rate stands at 4.1, less than half of any season average in his career.
Not helping the pressure on Puig is the fact that he's playing in the Dodgers' outfield, where several players could make the case for more playing time if his results don't improve soon.
Trayce Thompson got the start on Monday, the fifth time this season Puig was out of the starting lineup. Only Adrian Gonzalez has seen fewer days off.
"This roster does dictate [matchups]," Roberts said. "Every player on this roster can state a case they should play more or log more innings. Every roster in the Major Leagues isn't constructed this way, where there's delegated or dedicated bench players, guys that are only going to see the field very rarely. Our guys, the way we're constructed, we have depth."
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.