Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pushed Zack Greinke’s scheduled start back to Monday, saying he wanted to keep his starting pitchers fresh and rested.
Mattingly, who hinted on Saturday that he might make this move, also kept Yasiel Puig out of the lineup because the outfielder has a hurt left thumb. Stephen Fife will start Sunday against the Cubs.
The move will also give Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw an extra day of rest. Los Angeles began Sunday with a 4.5-game lead in the NL West.
”Felt like the timing was right with this,” Mattingly said. ”Felt like it was the right time just to give everybody an extra day.”
Mattingly said there was nothing wrong with Greinke, and that he expected Puig to be back in the lineup on Monday.
”He’s better today than we actually anticipated,” Mattingly said. ”We’ll be able to use him in different capacities, but we’re just going to be a little cautious. We had him in a brace overnight. He said he was stiff this morning, but as he’s been getting better and better moving it around.”
Puig injured his thumb while a making diving catch against the Cubs on Saturday. Mattingly said Puig would be available to pinch-run and as a defensive replacement on Sunday. He is hitting .376 with 11 home runs in 53 games.
Fife is 3-3 with a 2.76 ERA in eight starts with the Dodgers this season. The right-hander beat out Saturday’s starter Chris Capuano for the team’s fifth starter role just before the All-Star break, but missed 23 games after being placed on the DL with shoulder bursitis. Mattingly said the Dodgers would not go for long with a six-man rotation.
To make room on the roster, Los Angeles optioned outfielder Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque. Van Slyke was hitting .242 with six home runs.