The Los Angeles Dodgers need a positive twist for their downer of a Hollywood story so far. The much-heralded but little-seen outfielder Yasiel Puig could provide such a twist.
With the Dodgers' biggest positional star Matt Kemp on the disabled list and the $220-million team still trying to reach .500, the time seems ideal for the script writer to seek a new storyline.
The multitalented Cuban defector Puig (pronounced Pweeg) is indeed said by sources connected to the Dodgers to be "under consideration'' for a callup after initial word from manager Don Mattingly initially was interpreted by the media to mean that they were going to pass this time on both their top outfield prospects, Puig and Joc Pederson. And Puig was switched to center field for Thursday in what looks like a clear signal just how seriously the Dodgers are considering his callup.
The Dodgers, 22-30 and in last in the N.L. West, don't think Pederson is quite ready. But it's hard to say that about the dynamic Puig, the spring sensation who's played very well for Double-A Chattanooga (Tenn.). Though, he won't be matching his .517 spring batting average (and 1.328 OPS), three more hits Thursday when he was only a homer shy of a cycle put him at .322 with a 1.008 OPS. He has eight homers and 37 RBI at Chattanooga.
Puig, 22, was barely scouted when the Dodgers (wisely, I believe) took what seemed like a $42-million flyer on him in the winter. He's hit ever since, though spring training was clearly the highlight. He is an aggressive batter who is said to take vicious cuts.
Puig is seen as a Yoenis Cespedes type, though he isn't quite as experienced or well-known. Another comp is Bo Jackson, said scout./writer Bernie Pleskoff, one of a few who has seen Puig extensively.
Puig is said to be a superior athlete, like Cespedes and Jackson. He has 13 steals at Chattanooga.
The Dodgers used veteran Andre Ethier, who was benched for a game only about a week ago, in Kemp's stead on Thursday. However, Mattingly suggested a more permanent (or at least until Kemp returns from what is described as a mild right hamstring strain) replacement was in the offing. The other possibilities in the Dodgers minors include Matt Angle, Nick Bass, Elian Herrera and Tony Gwynn.
There are some solid choices in there. But what the Dodgers need now is a spark. What they need is Puig.